The Lord of the Rings: What does the real spider look like that inspired Arachne’s look?

A real nightmare for all arachnophobes, the gigantic Arachne who attacks Frodo in “The Return of the King” owes her appearance to a real specimen of a spider found in New Zealand.

To reach Mordor and the Mountain of Doom, Frodo has no choice: he must venture into the dark tunnels of Arachne, a filthy giant spider invented by Tolkien and abominably well represented in cinema by the virtual magicians of the world. Weta, edited by Peter Jackson.

If the monstrous creature thrills arachnophobic spectators with such effectiveness, if it seems so realistic to us, it is precisely because its appearance is directly inspired by a real species of spider, originating in the same region as the New Zealand director, as the latter explains in the audio commentary of Return of the King:

“We were inspired by a little spider from New Zealand, an ugly creature, very common in gardens”, tells Peter Jackson. “She’s very small, barely 3 cm, and she digs tunnels. When I was little, in Pukerua Bay, the garden was full of them. I had fun making holes to replay war movies. I used to build trenches and roads for my little soldiers. These filthy spiders live in tunnels and when I ran into one of them I would run away calling for my father. Because he didn’t have one. fear.”

It’s hard to blame the director for these childish fears when you learn a little bit about the spider in question, the “black tunnelweb”. Because indeed, although benign for humans, the bite of this bug seems to hurt as much as a bee sting.

Add to that a relatively uninviting physique and an unpleasant tendency to emerge from his tunnel as soon as a prey vibrates one of his webs – just like Arachne with Frodo in The Lord of the Rings – and the “black tunnelweb” thus becomes the ideal candidate to inspire the monstrous creature of the film:

Metropolitan FilmExport

“I asked Weta to make Arachne look the same as her”, continues Peter Jackson. “The Americans who work at Weta have never seen one. [le concepteur de créatures néo-zélandais] Christian Rivers brought back one he had found in his garden. He had captured one when he was as scared as I was. It was very brave of him. She served as a model for Arachne. “

If by any chance you were passing through New Zealand, you will now be warned: miniature versions of Arachne are hidden everywhere in certain gardens of Pukerua Bay. Be careful not to get bitten!

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