Today, LOTR fans the world over celebrate the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.
Fifteen years ago, the movie "Fellowship of the Ring" was released in December. It changed my life forever. Peter Jackson did an admirable job of translating the book to the movie screen. I'll tell you a secret, I hadn't planned to see the movie at all. I feared they'd jack up the title and put a new story under it. I didn't want a new story. I read The Lord of the Rings books twice in middle school.
My sister wanted to see the movie and bribed me to go with her. She'd pay for the tickets and popcorn. How could I refuse such a generous offer? I did, at first. I saw a special on the making of the movie and found myself curious. I finally agreed and decided to go in without any expectations at all. It had been a long time since I'd read the books, so figured I could go to the movie without the book interfering with whatever story Jackson told.
The moment I saw the Shire I recognized it. Jackson portrayed it perfectly. As the movie played, I remember bits of the books. Familiar references to the book littered the movie, and I was drawn in, bit by bit.
Particular scenes startled me, and for the first time in my life I understood what people meant by a "good" scared. It's knowing you can be scared by something because you're ultimate safe. Safe is a new concept for me.
As the movie progressed, I slipped deeper and deeper into the story, afraid to trust my beloved story to Jackson and slowly wanting desperately to be able to do exactly that. There were a few things I didn't care for, but I understood he'd chosen to do them for continuity in the movie. There was a scene coming, and I wondered how he'd handle it. I feared he'd mess it up and make it comical or stupid or simply unbelievable. I promised myself if he could carry it off, I'd give myself permission to lose myself in the movie. The scene arrived, and I cried. It was exactly as I'd envisioned it for decades. Oh... it still makes me cry as I think about it.
As much as I love the movie, I love music more. If the music is wrong, I don't care how good the movie is, it's forgettable.
Howard Shore composed all the music for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I wasn't as enamored with the latter movies, but I loved the music.
A few days before the release of The Two Towers, Howard Shore gave a lecture and presented a pre-screening of the movie. One of my California LOTR friends asked if I'd be interested in attending. I took a leap of faith and said, "Yes!" I flew to Cali and met a friend I'd only known online. I was introduced to others I'd met online and others, all of whom were LOTR fans like me.
Howard Shore was inspirational and funny. It was amazing.
We watched the movie in awe and wonder. When Shadowfax, the horse who agreed to carry Gandalf, galloped over the rise the first time I cried. One of my LOTR friends put an arm around me and whispered, "He looks like your horse." I'd had to put my horse down a few months earlier. My LOTR friends on the Fan Club boards had shared in my grief. This friend I'd never met before knew immediately what had touched my heart.
The musical score to LOTR is one of my favorite choices for background music when I'm writing.