My dear readers, today, I write about a very emotional event, and am very glad that you can’t actually see me crying onto my keyboard.
If there’s anything I’ve associated with the beautiful season of winter over the past three years (besides the usual, like snow, the Solstice, my birthday…), it’s The Hobbit. Specifically, the Peter Jackson movie adaptations of The Hobbit, which have been released every mid-December since 2012, my senior year of high school. It’s gotten to the point where I can hardly imagine December coming without a new Middle-Earth movie…and now, this is the last one. Battle of the Five Armies marks the end of the trilogy, and this will presumably be the last ever live-action adaptation of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth universe as well (we’re running out of books, after all).
This particular chapter of a fandom that I’ve been in for almost a third of my life has come to a close.
As I discussed in a previous post, I joined the Tolkien fandom in 8th grade, after reading my father’s copy of The Hobbit out of simple boredom and curiosity. That book has remained one of my favorite pieces of literature that I’ve read to date, and my own personal copy is now very well read, marked, and annotated. I love to dive back into that Middle-Earth framed as if for a child every now and again, whether that’s by opening the book or by slipping the DVD of An Unexpected Journey or The Desolation of Smaug into my laptop, and become immersed in Bilbo’s adventures. Sometimes while reading, I’ll even start to plan what kinds of adventures I want to embark on one day, although I’m unlikely to encounter any goblins or dragons on this particular plane of existence.
If there’s one theme I think that’s most important in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth universe, it’s the recurring symbol of the road and where that road leads: into adventure, into danger, into places near and far, both dark and fair, and then back home again. Bilbo first conjures his walking-song about roads in The Hobbit: “Roads go ever ever on, over rock and under tree, by caves where never sun has shone, by streams that never find the sea…” This song talks about the beauty of the world that you can encounter if you let the road sweep you away, and also about the beauty that can be found when the road at last turns back toward home. I often find myself singing it when I’m just walking about on my own. Thinking about the road – whichever road it is, wherever it leads – is especially emotional now, at the end of this era of the Middle-Earth experience. My road, and the road of the fandom, will go ever on – after all, we were here years before the movies even thought about existing, and we’ll continue on after they’re over.
However, the ending of this film trilogy feels a bit like the ending of a branch in the road, or a phase of a journey. We (the fans) were all walking one road together for a while, happy and excited…and now, we’ve arrived at a crossroads, where we must all go our separate ways and continue along our own roads until something else comes along to guide us back together again. And although it’s not sad exactly, it’s definitely very emotional.
I’m not going to say that I’m going to miss The Hobbit; after all, all I have to do is open the book or pop in the movies to return to the world of the story. Not will I miss the characters; Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, Fili and Kili, Thranduil, Legolas and Tauriel (my preciouses) will always be there whenever I want to see them again. However, I am going to miss something else: the experience. For the past three years, winter’s chill has been lit up with the promise of another stage of an adventure filled with welcoming parties in a cozy Hobbit hole, the grandeur of the Elven halls of Mirkwood, the glitter of gold beneath the mountain reflecting shimmering dragon fire. I’ll miss experiencing that: the excitement building up to seeing my favorite places and characters come to life, the fun of sharing the story with family and friends, weeping occasionally from the sheer elation and emotion of it all even if nothing particularly sad or joyful is happening.
However, this is just the end of one road, and though I’ll miss my journey on that road and remember it fondly, there are more adventures that lie on the road ahead.
I won’t give any spoilers for the film here, readers – you’ll have to discover it for yourself! However, I will tell you this: Billy Boyd, the actor for Pippin in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, sang the ending credits song for Battle of the Five Armies, entitled “The Last Goodbye”. Yes, I cried profusely from the first note, as if I were hugging an old friend that I would be separated from for a long time. It was a fitting farewell for all of us who walked this road and shared in this adventure.
“Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But don’t regret
Nor will I forget
All who took that road with me
To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home…”
A (slightly late) Happy Holidays to you all, readers – I can’t wait to share whatever adventures lie ahead with you!