When I first read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit as a kid, one of the things I enjoyed the most was how songs were incorporated into the novel. As the entry point for me into Tolkien’s work, the songs being sung by everyone from dwarves to elves to goblins helped draw me into this new world. My favorite was the one sung in Bag End in the first chapter by the dwarves about their home and what happened with the dragon. With the book becoming not one but three films, I had doubts about whether the song would make it into the movie and, if it did, whether it would match what I’d imagined after all these years. I have to say, I was not disappointed.
The movie version does away with a few aspects of what is often referred to as the Misty Mountains song, but what it keeps works really well. In An Unexpected Journey, there are no instruments being played by Thorin and company, and they only sing two of the 10 verses from the book. However, they capture the spirit of the song with their deep singing in the dark room of Bilbo’s home. Thorin starts and slowly the rest of the dwarves join in.
While short, it’s a beautiful bit of music that I think is a great translation to the screen of what we found in Tolkien’s novel. It’s epic, yet sad. It captures what the dwarves are feeling, and even though shorter than the original, the picture they paint speaks to larger, more adventurous and dangerous things happening beyond the borders of the Shire.
After reading the song in The Hobbit, my desire to go on this adventure was awoken just like Bilbo’s Tookish nature when he hears it. Listening to the song in the movie, I felt that same pull for these characters and this story. The ability to replicate that feeling made the film’s song a success to me. Now I find myself listening to the brief piece on repeat quite often, able to imagine traveling far over the misty mountains whenever I wish.