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. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the "fellowship" apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels.Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Tolkien family and the Estate issued a statement before the film's release to make clear that they did not approve of, authorize or participate in the making of this film, and did not endorse it or its content in any way. See more »
The professor uses the discredited translation of "foolhardy" for Tolkien's last name. Actually the Tolkien name means "son/descendant of Tolk", although Tolkien himself believed the former throughout his life. See more »
A child points, and is taught a word. Tree. Later, he learns to distinguish this tree from all the others. He learns its particular name. He plays under the tree. He dances around it. Stands beneath its branches, for shade or shelter. He kisses under it, sleeps under it, he weds under it. He marches past it on his way to war, and limps past it on his journey home. A king is said to have hidden in this tree. A spirit may dwell within its bark. Its distinctive leaves are carved onto the tombs and...
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The film's main problem is it doesn't want to be about what it is about. The film is largely a series of episodes of how various things (events, people, other works etc.) influenced the Middle Earth texts. But the film resists trying to draw 1 to 1 parallels between Tolkien's life and his fictional world.The film goes out of its way to avoid allegory. This is somewhat admirable given Tolkien's famous distaste for allegory but at the same time there's too much of the Middle Earth texts in the film to avoid making the connections. And the film clearly wants you to make those connections. This split aim makes the film have no real narrative drive. I do like how sometimes the narrative unspecified symbolism allows you to read several aspects of Tolkien's mythology into a scene. There was 2-3 times an ambiguous reference to either Sauron or Morgoth.
While the film is in the batting average for historical accuracy for Hollywood it weirdly ignores obvious things to discuss. The film greatly downplays Tolkien's Catholicism to the point where he doesn't seem any more devout than a random guy from that time period. Worse the film spends a lot of time on his courtship with Edith and the film just doesn't use the bit about Tolkien proposing at 12:01 on his 21st birthday. This makes Tolkien a less complex figure for removing his stubbornness.
However much the film's story is lacking I love the direction-cinematography in this film. There is a ton of very provocative and lyrical images that feel more Middle Earth to me than the weaker parts of the Jackson films. The film is handsome and despite the narrative drive being missing it doesn't get bogged down. It plays out like a standard coming of age tale, abet a more artistic one.
With all that being said Hoult's performance is easily the best part of the film and I wish it was in a much better film. I don't think he will ever top R but this a very touching naturalistic take on an icon.
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