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My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail is a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!
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smaug


Smaug was a fire drake in the Third Age. One of the last of its kind to be considered 'great', he laid waste to Dale and captured Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, from the Dwarves. For about two hundred years, he hoarded Erebor's treasures before a company of dwarves managed to drive him out of hiding, after which the dragon was slain by Bard the Bowman in Lake-town.

hird AgeEdit

Revenge! Revenge! The King under the Mountain is dead and where are his kin that dare seek revenge? Girion Lord of Dale is dead, and I have eaten his people like a wolf among sheep, and where are his sons' sons that dare approach me? I kill where I wish and none dare resist. I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today. Then I was but young and tender. Now I am old and strong, strong, strong, Thief in the Shadows!

In TA 2770, Smaug destroyed the city of Dale in a great firestorm, then broke through the door and wall of the Lonely Mountain. The Dwarves fled or were slain and Smaug took the riches of the mountain and the town: Gold and Gemstones, Mithril and Silver, elf gems and pearls, the many faceted crystals of emerald, sapphire and diamond, as well as the Arkenstone. For two centuries, Smaug ruled the Lonely Mountain uncontested, laying waste to the lands around the mountain, so that the blasted domain of the Dragon of Erebor became known as the Desolation of Smaug. Yet in the year TA 2941, a company of 14 adventurers and Gandalf led by the heir of the former Dwarf-kingdom, Thorin Oakenshield, entered Smaug's mountain lair by a secret door.


One of the party, Hobbit 'burglar' Bilbo Baggins, approached the Fire-drake by stealth and was surprised to find that Smaug was larger than he  had expected. Smaug was armored, as all of his  race were, with scales as impenetrable as iron, except on his underbelly. Aware of this, Smaug deliberately spent years sprawled on the wealth of his hoard, allowing diamonds and hard gemstones to be embedded into his belly, armoring his only weakness. During a confrontation with the Dragon, Bilbo noticed one bare patch on the monster's left breast, nearest his heart. With this invaluable information, he escaped the Mountain and, while discussing Smaug's weakness with the Dwarves, he was overheard by a thrush, who carried the secret to Bard the Bowman in nearby Lake-town.

The burgling of the Hobbit aroused Smaug and he and Bilbo conversed with each other. He then realized Bilbo was aiding Thorin and the rest of the Dwarf company to steal back the Arkenstone and reclaim the Mountain. He then came out in fiery wrath and loosened his flame upon the land. In vengeance, he went to the town Esgaroth upon the Long Lake (Lake-town), and devastated it. In the midst of the wreck, Bard the Bowman, heir to the throne of Dale, did his best to rally the defenders. Bard, guided by his knowledge of Smaug's secret weakness, shot a black arrow into the beast's chest. Screaming in fury and pain, Smaug fell out of the sky, crashing into the flaming ruins of Lake-town.

After Smaug's death, Thorin and Company claimed the treasure as theirs by birthright. This created a conflict with Bard and the Elvenking Thranduil of Mirkwood, each of whom wanted a portion of the gold as reimbursement for all the damage Smaug had caused their kingdoms over the years. Thorin refused to share the treasure and, as a result, they both declared war on him.

It is said that a vast fortune in gemstones lay with Smaug's rotting carcass amongst the pilings of old Lake-town, but few had the courage to dive for them in later years. With no Dragon to contend with, the survivors of the town rebuilt on dry land next to the lake.

EtymologyEdit

The dragon's name, Smaug, derives from the Old English smeag (of or pertaining to a worm), which is related to the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb smugan (to squeeze through a hole). The diphthong "au" in Smaug is pronounced like the "ou" in sound or house.

Smaug's name in Tolkien's language of Dain, Trâgu, is similar to the Norwegian word for dragon, drágë.

SizeEdit

It was never mentioned about how big the dragon was in the book. In The Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad[1], Smaug's is said to be about 18 meters in length. This measurement corresponds with drawings by Tolkien in which Smaug seems to be around 20 meters. For the size described in non-canonical works, see below.

It is unclear whether Smaug, the largest specimen in the Third Age, would compete in mightiness to his ancestors of average size in the First Age.

AbilitiesEdit

Being a fully-grown dragon, Smaug was massive and powerful. His physical strength was great enough to crush stone with ease, as seen by his attack on Erebor. He was able to fly thanks to his large wings, and had the ability to breath streams of searing hot flame from his mouth. Some comments in The Hobbit imply that his entire body was imbued with fire, as he was seen to glow in the darkness of the Lonely Mountain's depths, and his usual paths were said to have been "smoothed and slimed" (i.e. melted) by his passage.

Like many dragons of Middle-earth, Smaug's monstrous appearance also belied keen senses and a dangerously sharp mind. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of his treasure hoard, immediately registering the theft of a single cup after Bilbo made his first visit to his lair. When the hobbit returned a second time, Smaug was already expecting him by feigning sleep, and immediately declared that he could sense the thief even if he could not see him. Although Bilbo was clever enough not to fall for Smaug's attempts to trick him into revealing his exact position, the dragon used the resulting conversation to plant doubts in Bilbo's mind, correctly guessing that the "burglar" had allied himself with the dwarves and the men of Lake Town and asking if Bilbo had ever considered the logistical difficulties of getting his share of Smaug's treasure back to his home.

Defensively, Smaug's reddish-gold scales rendered him impervious to nearly all weapons, but his underbelly was relatively soft and vulnerable. To compensate for this, Smaug took to sleeping upon the gathered treasure of the Lonely Mountain, allowing bits of gold and jewels to embed themselves in his body. This "diamond waistcoat" was intended to cover Smaug's only physical weak spot, but when Bilbo Baggins confronted the dragon in his lair, he discovered a bare patch on the left side of his chest. Bard was told this by an ancient thrush that overheard Bilbo relating this information to the dwarves, enabling him to defeat Smaug by shooting his Black Arrow into the bare patch.

PersonalityEdit

Smaug is portrayed as being arrogant, and greedy, having an unquenchable desire for gold, and not caring who gets in his way for more. He appears to possess a rather sardonic sense of humor, mocking Bilbo darkly while they are talking. Smaug seems to dislike Dwarves, or at least thinks little of them, which is seen when he openly defiles their territory, and makes unfavorable comments about Thror. The most distinguishing characteristic of the dragon (aside from his greed), is his arrogance. Smaug thinks very highly of himself, loudly boasting his superiority. This proves to be his downfall when he is not able to recognize his only weakness. Smaug's motivations seem to be primarily greed and personal arrogance, rather than a desire to do evil. While he does ruthlessly destroy, after claiming the Lonely Mountain for himself he is apparently content to allow the rest of Middle Earth to go about its business so long as he is not disturbed.

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

The Hobbit film trilogyEdit

I am fire. I am...death.

—Smaug, Desolation of Smaug

Smaug is voiced and interpreted with performance capture by Benedict Cumberbatch in Peter Jackson's three-part adaptation of The Hobbit. Smaug is presented with a long head, red scales, enormous wings and glowing yellow eyes. The dragon has a deep, resonant voice with an underlying growl.

I am king under the mountain.

—Smaug, Desolation of Smaug

Smaug appears in the prologue of the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, described as a "fire drake from the north" before taking residence in Erebor. His full appearance was not shown as only parts of him were glimpsed as he is flying over Dale and partially obscured by the treasure in Erebor. He is featured mostly off-screen, only visible are his legs, tail, a small part of his head, and his wings as he flies, which is consistent with Tolkien's illustrations, and his eye, which can be seen in the final scene of the film. In addition, Smaug is a topic of discussion amongst the White Council as Gandalf cites his reason to support Thorin Oakenshield's quest. Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.In the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Smaug is awoken as Bilbo hunts for the Arkenstone amongst the vast treasure pile. Although Bilbo uses the One Ring to remain out of sight, the dragon is immediately made aware of his presence by his scent. As he searches for Bilbo, he hints at an awareness of the ring, as he senses that Bilbo has something powerful made of gold, which in turn forces the hobbit to remove the ring in front of him. It was shown that Smaug had already known about Thorin's plans to reclaim the Lonely Mountain (possibly because of the Thrush knocking the entrance to the heart of the mountain in the first film). During their conversation, Smaug seems to speak of the growing threat from Sauron (though he doesn't name him). He discerns the Hobbit's true intentions to steal the Arkenstone, and says that he is almost tempted to let Bilbo take it and let Thorin suffer the same fate as Thror. At this point Smaug ends his cat-and-mouse banter with the hobbit and immediately tries to kill him, but Bilbo uses the ring to escape.

The film deviates from the book in portraying Smaug's underbelly as being heavily armored as the rest of him, rather than being artificially protected by a coat of gold and gems. The bare patch that Bilbo notices is a single missing scale instead, broken off during his attack on Dale, by one of the Black Arrows fired by Girion

Smaug catches up to Bilbo and the Dwarves, but after they elude him he quickly crawls around the abandoned halls in search of them. In his pursuit, he is lead to the forges, where they trick him into rekindling the smelting vats with his fire breath. As the Company enact their plan, Bilbo leads him away a second time. At this point Smaug deduces that Bilbo and the Dwarves were aided by the men of Esgaroth, and leaves to destroy the town. Before he leaves, Thorin taunts him, and in their standoff, the dwarf unveils an enormous golden dwarf statue, which distracts the greedy dragon long enough for the statue to melt into liquid gold and supposedly drown him. Unfortunately for them, Smaug survives the scalding gold and stumbles out of the Mountain and breaks out through the entrance, he then takes to the air and shakes off his gold coating, then flies off towards Lake-town, the film ends with him uttering "I am Fire, I am.....Death!". Spoilers end here.The dragon was created with key frame animation, meaning it was animated by hand, in addition to Cumberbatch's motion capture performance. Weta Digital employed its proprietary "Tissue" software which was honored in 2013 with a "Scientific and Engineering Award" from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make the dragon as realistic as possible. Cumberbatch aimed for Smaug's voice to be "that bridge between animal and human, something guttural, deep and rasped, kind of dry as well because of all the fire breathing." He studied reptiles at the London Zoo to prepare for the role.

Smaug was considered the highlight of the second film of the series with several critics hailing it as cinema's greatest dragon incarnation. Universal praise was also given to the visual effects company Weta Digital and the vocal and motion-capture performance of Cumberbatch for bringing a fully realized personality to Smaug.

Non-canonical AbilitiesEdit

It is possible that he can change how his fire-breath comes out, depending on the usages. In the first film, his fire was more liquid and napalm-like, which had enough power and mass to shatter stone buildings and its blast could spread on the ground. In the second film, his fire is somewhat of a more typical fire or gas-fueled flamethrower-like with immense firepower enough to engulf his own body. It is possible that his breath in the second movie was normal fire because his priority was to kill the intruders, and not to cause destruction, understandably his treasures.

Non-canonical SizeEdit

In the film adaptations, Smaug dramatically increased in size. His actual size was unknown until his image designed on Air New Zealand B777 was revealed to be 54 meters in length. However, this was the length of painting itself, not his actual size. There is estimations of him to be longer than 60 meters in length and wider than 50 meters in wingspan[2]. Though in the comments made in the makings, his size is mentioned to be 130 meters in length and "bigger than two jumbo jets"[3].

In original concepts, Smaug was supposed to be more menacing and gigantic than in the actual movie, and these changes were due to make its character more 'special'. The same trait happened with Gollum as well[4]. In pre-publishing comments by Joe Letteri, the Oscar winning VFX supervisor from Weta digital, Smaug was said to be "twice as big as a Boeing 747", calculating over 141m in length[5].

Film ContinuityEdit

In the film An Unexpected Journey Smaug is shown with blue-hued scales when his eye opens in the closing moments of the film. This seems contradictory to Smaug's crimson scales in The Desolation of Smaug and Tolkien's original design, but the scales shift from blue to red in the final frames of the film, perhaps due to the ending of his long dormancy, which would explain the apparent inconsistency.

Also, in the prologue of the theatrical release of An Unexpected Journey, Smaug appeared to some as having six limbs (four legs and two wings). However, this may have been a misconception resulting from the fact that he was not fully or clearly shown in the prologue of the first film. In The Desolation of Smaug, the dragon is revealed as having four limbs (two back legs and two front legs with his wings attached). In several other items both in and out of the film, Smaug's images are confirmed with six limbs (see the images below).

Voice Dubbing actorsEdit

Foreign Language Voice dubbing artist
Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD) Ricardo Schnetzer
Spanish (Latin America) Carlos Segundo
Spanish (Spain) Ivan Muelas
Italian (Italy) Luca Ward
Hungarian Peter Haas Vander
Czech Aleš Procházka
French Jérémie Covillault
German Sascha Rotermund
Polish (Poland) Jacek Mikołajczak

In Gene Deitch's version (1966)Edit

Smaug in this version was mentioned to be 'Slag', 'the ancient monster of the Earth'. The monster has a tail which can pick a object. He was slain by Bilbo, Thorin's company, and 'Princess Mika' (an original character who was one of three survivors from Elebor and Esgaroth along with Thorin) very themselves, by shooting a large arrow which the heart-shaped Arkenstone was attached with as an arrowhead, from a catapult.

Rankin/Bass' The HobbitEdit

In the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit, Smaug was voiced by Richard Boone, and his head looked cat-like.

Video gamesEdit

  • In the 2003 video game release, Smaug was voiced by James Horan.
  • Smaug will also appear in the upcoming Lego video game of LEGO The Hobbit to be released 11th of April 2014.

TriviaEdit

  • The scene where Thorin mocks Smaug calling the dragon 'slag' may be a homage to how Smaug was referred in Gene Deitch's version, not only to rhyme with his name.
  • Most notably, Smaug was apparently a four-legged western dragon in the first film[6], but to follow the description in the book, referring to him as a "worm", he was redesigned to be a more snake or bird like wyvern-type dragon in the second film[7]. In the Blu-ray extended edition of the first movie, his forelimbs were changed to winged-arms[8].
  • His body parts have also been altered from what he looked like in the first movie[9].
  • According to Weta designers, his fire is not magical, but 'fuel-based'[10][11].
  • In the movie, his chest and neck glow orange before he breathes fire. This is similar to Godzilla as his backfins glow before he uses his atomic breath.
  • Smaug in the movie was designed to be 'multicultural', combining characteristics from dragons around the world[12].
  • A kite resembling Smaug appears in the prologue of the first film.
  • Some of his early designs largely resembles that of the Balrog in the movie series, as one has horns and bulk neck resembling that of Balrogs, and his eyes and inside of mouth glow incandescence white like a jack o'lantern in another one.
  • Smaug in the movie was somehow aware of Black Arrows with their proper noun.
  • Smaug is one of regular rankers in the "Richest fictional characters" by the Forbes. According to Michael Noer, writing for Forbes Magazine, Smaug is the wealthiest fictional character, with a treasure having a calculated valuation of over 62 billion dollars,[13] although he can't actually spend any of it!
  • The scene where Thorin lands on Smaug's nostril is maybe a Peter Jackson's self-homage to his previous work, the King Kong (05'); to the scene where Ann Darrow accidentally landed on the nostril of one of Vastatosaurus Rexs

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