You must have been living under a rock for the last decades to not have seen either one of the “The Lord of The Rings” films or not have heard of a creature called the Hobbit, who also took us on multiple adventures on the big screen.
Whether he was shaping your childhood or whether he was part of your adult years, J. R. R. Tolkien (John Ronald Reuel Tolkien) had, and still has, an enormous influence on fans, book lovers and filmmakers.
Despite seeing his work come to life in different adaptations, there was never a movie made about Tolkien himself, until now. With his “Tolkien”, director Dome Karukoski (“Tom of Finland”, “The Grump”) shows us that it was finally time to discover the man behind the myth
Yes, “Tolkien” is about friendship, love, and languages but that isn’t the first thing Karukoski wants to show in his film. Bombs, bullets everywhere and hundreds of casualties.
The harsh time Tolkien had to endure during the Battle of the Somme as the second lieutenant was the inspiration for the bombastic but still serene first scene. The war wasn’t the only event that changed Tolkien’s life completely. Flashback to eleven years earlier.
Tolkien’s mother has just died and he and his older brother Hilary are being raised by Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan in Birmingham where he would go to the King Edward’s School, another turning point in his life.
It wasn’t only the start of T.C.B.S (Tea Club and Barrovian Society), where he and three friends shared their passion for tea, literature, and languages, but it was also the start of his relationship with Edith Mary Bratt.
New friendships, new love and increasing thirst for books and stories. Nothing could stop Tolkien from turning his poor and unfortunate life into a more distinguished and acceptable one. However, you can never fully cut tired with your past, can you?
Fr. Francis starts to forbid him from seeing the Edith (due to differences in religion), he fails exam after exam and the scholarship he needs don’t come easy. Will he have to accept a life without the love of his life, some money, and his own books or will he fight for his potential legacy?
Last week, the Tolkien Estate issued a statement in which they made undoubtedly clear that the family and estate didn’t endorse the film or its content.
However, maybe they should have waited with that announcement until after seeing the movie as “Tolkien” does the writer more justice than harm.
Writers David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford stayed as true to the life of the established and honoured writer as possible. Watching this film is the same as reading one of the biographies of Tolkien.
The more popular side of the legend of Tolkien such as “The Hobbit” or “The Lord of the Rings” is being kept aside, whether unintentionally or not
During the “Tolkien” premiere in London, Lily Collins (“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile”, “Okja“) mentioned she auditioned for the role as Tauriel for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” but as history has taught us, the role went to the splendid Evangeline Lilly.
However, luckily for Collins, she was still able to part of the world of Tolkien after being cast as Edith Bratt. We wouldn’t say that Collins is Bratt’s doppelgänger but the physical similarities are uncanny. If Bratt was like how Collins portrays her, then she must have been a loving and musically woman but also a studious and determined one.
According to Nicholas Hoult (“The Favourite“, “X-Men: Apocalypse”), one of the reasons why he wanted to play Tolkien was the great depth of both the script and Tolkien’s.
In this film, Hoult is charming, witty and intriguing as the resolute student/writer who wants to totally lose himself in the world of languages but the British actor excels in the more powerful war scenes.
From the age of thirteen and after growing up without a father, director Karuksoski got fascinated with the work of Tolkien and for him, it was an honour to make the first movie about Tolkien himself and that clearly shows.
The life of the author is handled with a lot of care, respect, and delicacy that makes from this movie a trustworthy one. The film consists of a lot of academic talks, and made-up languages that almost no one understands and that can be quite challenging to follow but the easily recognizable musical score from Thomas Newman (“Spectre“, “Bridge of Spies“) makes these scenes lighter and pleasant.
Maybe not as much as in the Peter Jackson’s adaptations of Tolkien’s work, “Tolkien” still contains some scenes involving CGI and they’re well-balanced. Most of them are about the Battle of Somme and together with Hoult’s performances, these are the scenes that stick with you throughout the film.
After his work being the inspiration for many, it was finally time to put the acclaimed actor in the spotlight for once. Ok, “Tolkien” is probably not a movie that you will remember for the rest of your life as it misses just that spark of magic to do that.
However, “Tolkien” turned out to be an excellent film about love, life, courage, and fellowship and is filled with humble acting performances and cared for with the utmost respect by both cast and crew.
3rd May 2019
THE QUICK SELL
Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school