Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have weighed in on a bizarre Turkish court case in which a doctor is accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by comparing him to Gollum.
Bilgin Ciftci faces up to two years in prison for juxtaposing pictures of Erdogan and the fictional creature on social media — but according to the three filmmakers, the photos in question actually depict Smeagol, the kindhearted and “very loveable” alter ego of Gollum.
Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens released a statement Wednesday that said, “If the images [in question] are in fact the ones forming the basis of this Turkish lawsuit, we can state categorically: None of them feature the character known as Gollum. All of them are images of the character called Smeagol.”
Walsh, the principal writer of the Smeagol and Gollum scenes in the films, added, “Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious — these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol. Smeagol would never dream of wielding power over those weaker than himself. He is not a bully. In fact he’s very loveable. This is why audiences all over the world have warmed to his character.”
The filmmakers’ statement strongly indicates that they support Ciftci’s case, without explicitly stating so.
Ciftci’s lawyer Hicran Danisman had told the Associated Press on Wednesday that she was forced to argue that Gollum “is not a bad character” because a defense based on freedom of expression got “nowhere.”
Danisman’s new tack prompted the judge to call for a committee, including psychologists and movie experts, to assess the character. The trial is to reconvene in February.