For a long time, I have wondered this. As a music performance major, I happen to be naturally drawn to exploration of the soundtrack of any given film as much as I am analysis of individual characters or the plot. In fact, I feel as though music provides the most essential component to the atmosphere of any film. If the Lord of the Rings movies had horrible music, then nobody would have been able to take them as seriously. Also, think about some other great films that have come out during our lifetime, The Batman films all have excellent soundtracks, as do the Star Wars movies and many others.
Music provides a very intense variable to the medium of film. Books cannot possibly provide this in their narratives, and even if they try its difficult to be effective because each individual person has their own preconceived notion of how music should sound. If I were writing a book and tried to describe one of the main musical themes of Lord of the Rings, it would sound very different in people’s heads then it would in an actual movie. However, if I ask everyone to recall the main theme of the movie (heard on the menu screen of the version of the film we’re watching in class) everyone would recall the same exact tune.
What great music does for film is allow the audience to grow closer to characters and situations that they otherwise wouldn’t have felt. Without the epic, flowing themes, audiences would have a much harder time connecting with the complicated plotline and intricate characters in the Lord of the Rings. It helped us have a deeper understanding of the Hobbit’s friendships, the scariness of Mordor, and the Fellowship’s bravery. Because of the music, the movie is more memorable.