Birth name: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (born 1892 in South Africa)
He was an orphan —father died when Tolkien was 4, and mother at 12.
Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic.
He was raised by a Catholic priest, Father Francis Morgan.
He was married for 50 years to Edith Mary Bratt (also an orphan); they had 4 children.
Tolkien’s oldest son became Catholic priest.
Protestant C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were once close friends, having met as professors at Oxford before WWII and started a literary group called The Inklings. Later, Lewis dedicated his book, The Screwtape Letters, to Tolkien.
Tolkien died in 1973 at age 81 and is buried in the Catholic Cemetery at Oxford.
Wanting to improve the world through one’s artistic abilities
World War I
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
War in the Bible
Armies in the Bible
Loss of friends
What is DEATH? and WHY does it exist? Answer in the Bible
What is ETERNAL LIFE? Answer
What is ETERNAL DEATH? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
Nicholas Hoult … J.R.R. Tolkien
Lily Collins … Edith Bratt
Patrick Gibson … Robert Q. Gilson
Pam Ferris … Mrs. Faulkner
Colm Meaney … Father Francis Morgan
Tom Glynn-Carney … Christopher Wiseman
Derek Jacobi … Professor Wright
Laura Donnelly … Mabel Tolkien
Genevieve O'Reilly … Mrs. Smith
Adam Bregman … Geoffrey Bache Smith
Harry Gilby … Young J.R.R Tolkien
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|Director:||Dome Karukoski (a Finnish filmmaker)|
|Producer:||Fox Searchlight Pictures
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Fox Searchlight Pictures, a sister company of 20th Century Fox, a division of The Walt Disney Company
“A life of love, courage and fellowship.”
“Tolkien.” The name conjures many things to mind. Elves, Hobbits, Dwarves, and “one ring to rule them all.” Before Tolkien was the greatest fantasy writer of all time, he found a fellowship of his own.
J.R.R. Tolkien, or “Ronald” (Nicholas Hoult) to his friends, struggles through the trenches in WWI, in search of his best friend, Geoffrey Smith (Adam Bregman). As he faces the terrible death toll of the Somme, he flashes back to his childhood.
Uprooted from all he knows and moved into the city after his father’s death, young “Ronald” Tolkien (Harry Gilby) takes comfort in daydreaming and sketching fantastical creatures from his imagination. His mother’s stirring stories of dragons and fair knights fuel his inspiration to create entire languages. Then, he comes home one day to find his mother has also died.
His priest, Father Francis (Colm Meaney) moves him into a boardinghouse where a charming young pianist, Edith (Mimi Keene) lives, and finds him a good school to attend. Tolkien shows a natural aptitude for learning, and through a run-in on the rugby field with the headmaster’s son, soon finds himself in a small group of friends.
Geoffrey Smith (Anthony Boyle) dreams of becoming a poet. Robert Gilson (Albie Marber) works hard to maintain high grades, but wants to paint. Christopher Wiseman (Ty Tennant) is an aspiring musician and composer. The four boys soon form a friendship and agree to “change the world through their art.”
This friendship lasts over the years. Now aspiring to college, Tolkien dreams of attending Oxford. His romance with Edith Bratt (Lily Collins) sustains him, but a difficult struggle lies ahead… tuition he cannot pay, a devastating world war, and stories that just won’t leave him alone…
“Tolkien” is a respectful, romantic, and deep tribute to a man who loved words so much that he created entire languages for his fictional races to speak. As a character, he comes across as an emotional, in love man who also had an incredible gift for languages. The script has a genuine love for his world, and teems with references to his work—a faithful man in the trenches called Sam, eagles in flight on the walls of his bedroom, shadows of Ents late in his room at night, a remark that “a story about a magic ring should not take six hours to tell,” Nazgul and dragons on the battlefield, even a glimpse of Sauron. Tolkien makes notes from ancient books that speak of “Fili, Kili, and Gandalf.”
This is not a movie for the faint of heart, because it touches on things like loss (both he and Edith are orphans, and not all his friends survive the war), the devastating horrors of the battlefield (Tolkien endures fire in the trenches, soldiers being gassed by the enemy, stumbling through body-strewn trenches, holes, and fields), and PTSD (he says not all men came back from the war “unchanged”).
It has many sad scenes, but also joyful ones—flashes of genuine humor and sweetness, especially in his tender relationship with his future wife.
The film flashes back and forth between the battlefield and earlier scenes in his life, but it never becomes too erratic or distracting, and allows the audience “breaks” from the horrors of war. It does not touch on his faith (his priest objects to his love of Edith because “She’s not even Catholic!” but later admits Tolkien chose well, because “she never left your side, not once”), but it carries all the themes of his books—primarily, that of “friendship.” He and his friends champion one another, push each other to courage, bolster each other in failure, and help each other.
Content-wise, other than the aforementioned battle scenes (which show a lot of bodies, men being shot, blown through the air, and stabbed), there’s not much problematic material. One character refers to buxom women; he shows his friends two paintings he made of bare-breasted women (he says he wishes he could find live models). The father chastises Tolkien for coming out of Edith’s room late one night, but Tolkien insists (truthfully) they were “just talking.” Some could interpret Geoffrey’s tenderness and affection toward Tolkien as unrequited love, but I didn’t see it that way. Tolkien says of all his friends, “Geoffrey most embodied what it is to love.”
There’s no profane language, although the boys use “Hell” a few times, as a rallying cry, centered on Tolkien’s studies of the underworld.
The movie is beautifully cast and written, has a gorgeous original score (that suggests “The Lord of the Rings”), and lovely costumes. I walked out for the first time understanding the great author who “dabbled” in Middle-Earth his entire life. It made me like him as a human being, in giving me tremendous empathy for his losses, and it reminded me of the preciousness of life. Tolkien saw and felt the devastation of war and translated his feelings into a beautiful book series that has inspired generations of fans.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.