Fellowship of the Ring. The Two Towers. Return of the King. The Hobbit. There is a short list of authors whose work makes their name known to almost every person on the planet, but if there was such a list then J.R.R Tolkien would no doubt be very high on the list (maybe #1 depending on your feelings for Dr. Suess). Almost 45 years past his death and 83 years past the release of The Hobbit, the new biopic gives us a little more of a feel for the life and times of Tolkien before he was a household name.
The new film Tolkien explores Tolkien’s like from his teenage years just after returning from Africa with his mother until around the end of the first world war in 1918. What you should know going into the film is that this was made without the Tolkien estate’s involvement. The Tolkien Estate being a separate entity from the group that owns the trademark for Tolkien’s work when he sold it prior to his death (who we will avoid talking about but feel free to Google). But with most of the film events set over 100 years ago, this might not be such a concern for eye witness accounts.
The film itself walks you through Tolkien’s life with regards to his family and upbringing including the challenges and change of circumstances he (and his younger brother) had coming from a family which was not considered wealthy. The vast majority of the film is set during Tolkien’s time in schooling through to University and of course, the love life that saw his 4 children. To borrow a phrase from Tolkien’s mother everyone either marry’s for money or finds treasure. This is about finding treasure.
Much of the film is told as a flashback starting off during Tolkien’s time in World War I in the French Somme. With Teenage Tolkien before his older self being played by Nicholas Hoult who you will recognise from playing Beast in X-Men First Class through to Dark Phoenix.
For a hardcore Tolkien fan there are many pieces from his formative years as told by the film that can be seen as influences in his later work such as his group of friends who some might see as his own ‘fellowship’ throughout his journey to the hellish groups of his own personal Mordor, the front trenches of WWI. While there are plenty of influences there are also more than a few easter eggs spread throughout the film including drawings used in stories created by Tolkien that also helped him create entirely new languages (influenced by other existing languages as demonstrated during his time at Oxford in the film), such as the Elvish languages used throughout the LoTR books.
So, should you go see it? Well, that depends on you. If you are looking for epic battle scenes of Orcs fighting Elves with Talking Trees and Hobbits smoking pipeweed as directed by Peter Jackson then this film is definitely not for you. If you are a feverish Tolkien fan however there is an abundant amount of easter eggs and early lore that transferred over to the books. Oh, and there is an occasional Dragon.
Tolkien is in cinemas across Australia from June 7th