HomeWorldHere is the spider that inspired Shelob, the monstrous spider of the...

Here is the spider that inspired Shelob, the monstrous spider of the third part

We love the Lord of the Rings anecdotes and we are excited to share our latest find with you. The giant spider, which we see in the third episode of The Lord of the Rings, baptized Shelob in VO and Arachne in the new translation, gave many viewers a cold sweat. However, many of us do not yet know which spider Shelob was inspired by. Thanks to Peter Jackson himself, the puzzle is solved.

Warning: If you have a severe form of arachnophobia, keep the following in mind.

The Shelob Spider

To reach Mordor, Frodo has no choice. He has to venture into the dark tunnels of Arachne, a giant spider invented by Tolkien, which is represented in the cinema thanks to the works of Peter Jackson. The very first Shelob models were born in 1998, while the spider only appeared in The Return of the King, which was published in 2003.

Technology advanced a lot between 1998 and 2003, and as a result, expectations of Shelob have increased. As a result, the first models were simply thrown away and the spider was recreated from A to Z. To start over on a good basis, the group’s arachnophobe, Jim Rygiel, who was also the visual effects supervisor, submitted an idea to Peter Jackson: that of being inspired by a spider that exists in New Zealand and which Peter Jackson particularly hates.

The spider that really exists and that inspired Shelob

Indeed, if Arachne disgusts us, it is certainly because she is inspired by reality. In the audio commentary on The Return of the King, Peter Jackson explains:

We were inspired by a little New Zealand spider, an ugly creature that is very common in gardens. It’s very small, barely 3 cm, and digs tunnels. When I was little, the garden in Pukerua Bay was full of it. I enjoyed making holes to play back war films. I’ve built trenches and roads for my little soldiers. These filthy spiders lived in tunnels and when I came across one of them I ran away and called my father. He wasn’t afraid of it.

The spider that Peter Jackson evokes here and that Jim Rygiel envisioned as his starting model is called Black Tunnelweb, also known as Porrhothele antipodiana. These spiders are mainly found in New Zealand.

During an encounter with a human, the black tunnel web can bite. Their venom is harmless to humans, but the bite is painful, similar to a bee sting. It usually causes localized swelling, itching, and localized numbness. It’s hard to say whether you prefer the Black Tunnel Web or Arachne, but given the size of the latter, we’d agree that falling on the New Zealand spider is better.


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