a very fond farewell

I remember my mom stumbling upon me curled in a ball in my room in the dark, crying my eyes out listening to Annie Lennox’s “Into The West.” She asked what was wrong and I replied, in typical teenager fashion, that “it’s just a sad song, okay?”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No.”

Now with Billy Boyd’s final, final finale to the entire Hobbit/LOTR cinematic arc, though, I do.

These movies together have spanned almost the entirety of my adolescence and adulthood. And that’s all I can claim. I’m not old enough to have ridden the first wave of the books’ popularity, and gotten dismissed from college in the 60s for getting lost in the books as one winner of a “biggest fan” contest could say. My wedding ring has no Elvish on it (for all that we floated the idea of having bridespeople dress up as ringwraiths we’d have to battle down the aisle, to an officiant dressed as Gandalf). The fanfic I wrote wasn’t anything special–albeit a learning experience–and I only dressed up for an opening night once.

I don’t even reread the books every year.

But.

Ending before we’ve actually begun–making the movies whose narrative comes, chronologically, before the narrative we’ve already seen made into movies ten years ago–is one of the saddest, most beautiful gifts circumstance could have bestowed on someone unable to let go. Because you’re never quite over–while chronological narrative carries you onward, the chronology of production carries you backward, to the Hobbit, before so many endings have begun. And you never really have to leave it behind.

But then of course there’s the fact that you are going to walk out of a theater and there will be no more new footage on the horizon. I saw Battle of the Five Armies early, as part of the 8.5-hour Hobbit Movie Marathon put on by Cinemark. And I walked out and it was over.

MOVIE SPOILERS BELOW

The thing that made me happiest, in the entire movie, was Bilbo’s farewell to Thorin. Specifically the way he cried. That wet, high, nasal whine. That is how people cry. If you sob, you run out of air. If you’re pretty while doing it, it’s not really crying. Just that whine–that attempt to give some kind of voice, some kind of shape or narrative to all this, trumped by sorrow and the need to breathe. That was a good goddamn cry. And then–wrenchingly–him trying to be supportive, as though Thorin could still benefit from that and revive–“Look, Thorin, the eagles! Look at the eagles! The eagles…they’re coming…” Oh my god that scene.

And then when he is asked what Thorin meant to him. I wasn’t even moved to slash this, though my husband reminded me later it was probably happening as we spoke, somewhere. And that’s fine. But in a life with relatively few friends, spent hopelessly in love with the friendships portrayed on pages and screens, Bilbo’s inability to say it, when he tried at first, smote me. And when he finally does, later, on his doorstep…this way I will accept it, I thought. The overt use of the term “friendship,” called out thusly, in movies and particularly games (ugh, Kingdom Hearts and JPRGs in general) drives me up the wall. They want us to deify these friendships that are ultimately rather shallow. Meanwhile those which run deep tend not to call themselves out as, in fact, deep and true and important. But, delivered like that, I will accept it. It’s beautiful and sad. And not something I’m very good at. Probably the only friendship like that I ever had, I turned into a marriage. So clearly I’m not so great at boundaries.

But that doesn’t make watching it any less magical. I may be more willing to be sentimental based on the comparative lack of goodbyes I’ve had to make in life, or because I well and truly want to feel something. That was why I was huddled in my room as a teenager, crying freely to “Into the West.” I had read an article praising the medicinal properties of crying. And of sorrow in general. So I tucked myself away with my stereo and my ROTK soundtrack and bawled my eyes out. And was, to my mortification, discovered doing so, by the very person whose slow mental decline would cause the same messy, lonely crying some ten years later. The same messy, lonely crying we see Martin Freeman invoking so well in the final minutes of the final film of the set that, more than any other cinematic, literary or cultural experience, was a touchstone to me for most of my culturally conscious life.

“These memories I will hold / with your blessing I will go–”

Ah, but I won’t hold those memories! And a song’s easy conviction that I, we, or anyone can, makes me bawl all the harder.

EDIT: Oh shit, oh shitting shit of shit, there’s a video. I didn’t know there was a video! I only listened to it on Spotify and looked up the Youtube video to embed it in this post on my lunch break! Crying in the office! Crying. In. The. Office.

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