‘Hobbits really are amazing creatures…You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.”
Gandalf, “The Fellowship of the Ring”
Take a moment and think of your favorite fantasy novel or novels. Now think about what pulled you into that story. What captured your imagination and had you living in that world? It’s probably not just one thing, but I’m guessing all those elements have one thing in common—they’re based in truth.
It’s that truth that’s explored in director Dome Karukoski’s “Tolkien.”
The film blends together the reality of a young John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) with the fantastical elements of the worlds he created. Some are fairly obvious. Wraiths fly over the battlefields of the Great War and dragons scorch the earth. Others, are a little subtler.
His mother (Laura Donnelly) reading bedtime stories of monsters and adventure. The bonds of fellowship he forms with his classmates. The passion and pain of his first and final love, Edith (Lily Collins). A teacher (Derek Jacobi) who recognizes and encourages his passion for language.
It’s these quieter moments mixed with the madness of WWI that start to form the stories Tolkien would later share with the world. They provide the truth behind the stories (yes, even the dragons).
It’s this truth that allowed Tolkien to not just tell a story, but create entire worlds. His characters don’t just have names and backstories, they have lives, families, histories, unique cultures, languages, myths, and beliefs. They exist in their own worlds but are tied to ours through universal themes of courage, fear, loss, hope, and love.
I’ve wandered far from the “film review” path, but I won’t apologize for sharing my personal bias. Tolkien has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and any film that tries to pay homage to this great man is going to tug at my heartstrings. And this film certainly does try.
Much like Tolkien’s work, the film is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. But, if you’re intrigued by multiple discussions of language and where its power lies, a little teenage rebellion involving painting, poetry, and music composition, and hot dates involving a “cellar door” and Wagner (swoon), then “Tolkien” is worthy of your time.
To my fellow Throners (I still don’t know if this is actually a thing), if you haven’t already discovered Tolkien get ye to a bookstore (or Amazon) stat. You will see the GoT books and show in an entirely new way. Plus, you may even acquire the common sense to not sign stupid, petty petit…you know what, actually, I’m going to let the man himself take this one…
“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”
J.R.R. Tolkien “The Hobbit or There and Back Again”
…just for fun: