Andy Serkis revives Gollum to ridicule Theresa May’s Brexit deal
Nice Gollum argues for a People’s Vote. Cruel Gollum rants about “blue passportses”
Andy Serkis almost certainly qualifies as a British National Treasure. He now belongs with John Major’s “warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers and old maids bicycling to Holy Communion.”
He’s just the sort of thing those perfidious continentals are likely to rob if the nation fails to secure the stiffest of hard Brexits. Right? They’ll want EuroSerkis
Look elsewhere, Ukip. To nobody’s great surprise, the actor and director – famous for perfecting an ingenious school of motion capture – has confirmed his scepticism about Brexit in a video that makes satirical use of his most famous creation.
In The Lord of the Rings, the pathetic Gollum wars with himself over his passion for the all-powerful ring he describes as “Precious”. The obsession destroys him and contributes to a larger, looming apocalypse. You can see where this going.
Serkis appears dressed as Theresa May in a gloomy, troglodyte version of (presumably) Downing Street. Her perilous, greatly unloved EU deal – at time of writing still scheduled to go before the House of Commons on December 11th– takes the place of the “one Ring to rule them all”.
The nicer Gollum (or Sméagol) argues for a People’s Vote on the agreement. The crueller Gollum rants about “blue passportses” and taking back control.
It’s a typically skilled performance from Serkis. The warring forces are effectively voiced as two instincts within the same brain.
There’s a kinder Britain (England, really) that wants to honour the reasonable traditions of George Orwell, Charles Dickens and George Eliot. There’s a meaner, more insular instinct that wants to follow Tommy Robinson into Mordor. All nations have those same conflicts.
The satire is, however, a little heavy-handed and a tad insecure in its references. May’s agreement doesn’t really work as a stand in for the Ring. That artefact was enormously powerful, potentially apocalyptic and – for good or ill – desired fervently by millions.
The problem with the Deal (acknowledged briefly here) is that almost nobody on either side has much time for it. It’s seen as feeble, compromised and ill explained. There’s a sense that even May herself isn’t that keen.
The Ring really should be Brexit, but take that line and you risk damning an enormous section of the British public as disciples of Sauron. Who is really convinced the British would vote differently in a second referendum?
Serkis’s little film will amuse those who already agree with him and cause those who don’t to fume about “elitist lovies”. It will change few minds. It may also be dramatically outpaced by events.
This thing is nobody’s Precious.