Final Thoughts




When one finds themselves in the throes of a passion, it’s sometimes fascinating to think back to the first germ of that passion.

The first tiny germ of this passion would have to be news that Lord of the Rings was going to be made into a movie. Lord of the Rings was a book I had read 30 years ago. I loved it at the time, nourished a brief bit of passion, and then moved on to other books and other passions. I hadn’t reread the book in those 30 years and I hadn’t really thought much about them, although I had purchased the set for my children.

When I first saw the Fellowship of the Rings in December of 2001, I enjoyed it. Some parts very much. But again, I didn’t give it much thought for another 5 months. The movie, then in its ‘second run’ life, came to my neighborhood $2.00 theater. I saw it again, and something ‘clicked’. I decided to reread the books and was astounded at my response to them. Over the summer of 2002 I became enveloped in a world that seem to contain only Tolkien. It was a wonderful ride.

Part of that world encompassed the soundtrack CD. I listened to the copy that was purchased for my son’s birthday, and quickly bought my own copy. Then I bought another copy, one for the house, one for the car. It was the only CD in my car many months. I listened to it often in the house, also. And because I love music and singing so much, I wanted to sing along with those wonderful voices. That wasn’t hard with two of the songs, “May It Be” and “In Dreams”. The lyrics were printed in the CD booklet (although I later learned they contained some mistakes) and were mostly in English. “Aníron’s” lyrics were printed in the booklet, also, but required more work since they were in Elvish. I fussed over that ‘d’ sound in Aníron, till I discovered that the ‘r’ was rolled and sounding ‘d-ish’. But the lyrics for “Lament for Gandalf” didn’t seem to fit the song. And there was more singing that wasn’t printed in the booklet. I started my search for more information.

That search has led me through many websites, past many people who shared my passion. It led me to spend many hours transcribing and reformatting and straining in the headphones to hear those elusive words. It led me into the world of themes and leitmotifs and incidental music.

Some things I share with you are exact copies from other people’s work. Some things are primarily other people’s work altered with my corrections, elaborations, or disagreements. Some are products of my labors alone with occasional editing help from others. Many thanks to them all.

This passionate endeavor to ‘map’ the soundtrack has illuminated depths and nuances in the music but it has also enabled me a form a deeper connection to the movie. Part of my work has included pulling sound clips off the movie. In order to edit and then attempt to discern lyrics and themes, I listen to these sound clips repeatedly through my headphones. When I do that, I hear not only the music, but all the background noise. The headphones provide an intimate connection to all the sounds of the movie: not just the soundtrack and the dialog, but all the ambient, auxiliary sounds that add to the movie experience but mostly on an unconscious level. I heard the clang of the swords, the creak of Lurtz’s massive bow, the grunts of Boromir and the sobs of Frodo and Sam. And they pierced my heart in a way they never had when I had the ‘distraction’ of the picture.

And as I transcribed the movie cues to the music, I found myself writing a description of Boromir’s last battle as I listened to that serenely calm boy’s choir. I had seen that scene dozens of times, but our brain takes in different media in different ways. By writing the description of the events unfolding, I felt the scene on a visceral level unlike all the viewings I’d had.

Experiencing the movie can happen at many different depths. Just like experiencing the books can. Although the movie and the books are certainly connected, they each hold their own place in my heart. They are not, in all ways, the same. But Peter Jackson is a genius in his art form as much as Tolkien was in his. And Howard Shore as composer, a choice suggested by Fran Walsh, contributed greatly to Jackson’s work.

Well, waxing philosophical is well and good, but there’s more work to be done. It never stops you see...

Marilynn M. Miller

August, 2004