(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)
As you may have heard, TOLKIEN comes out this Friday. Last night, across 400 theaters, there was an early screening through Fathom Events, followed by a live simulcast with Nicholas Hoult (he plays Tollers), Lily Collins (she plays Edith), Dome Karukoski (Director), and hosted by fellow fan Stephen Colbert. It was a great event!
I really enjoyed the film. I think it was Colbert (or possibly Hoult) who said in the simulcast, that it was a story of “friendship, love, and loss.” Between the early years of Tolkien’s life, his schooling, and his time spent in WWI, especially The Battle of the Somme, this movie seeks to show how these experiences shaped the man who would write such beloved novels.
While Tolkien had often said that Lord of the Rings wasn’t an allegory to his war time experience, I thought this movie beautifully showed how the emotions of losing his parents at a young age (thus becoming an orphan) and fighting in horrific trench warfare still greatly impacted his life. (Although, fun fact sidenote: Tolkien did use his experience from The Somme for some of his works, including the Dead Marshes in The Two Towers). I can’t help but believe his writing the hope he created in them, were healing for him in some ways.
Even Karukoski, who after watching this one interview, clearly loves Tolkien deeply, shared that in his hard years as a young child, Tolkien’s “stories became friends.” I don’t think Tollers could have imagined the impact and hope his mythology would give millions, years after they were published.
His early friendships with Robert Gilson, Christopher Wiseman and Geoffrey Bache Smith portrayed the deep impact and meaning friendships have on each of us. It’s a reminder that we each need our own fellowship. It’s a beautiful part of life. Also, even having read about it before the movie, I still chuckle at the name they gave themselves: TCSB (Tea Club and Barrovian Society).
I also loved how the movie gave us a peek into the relationship between Tolkien and Edith. I’ve always loved the strong women in Middle Earth and knowing Edith played such a role made me enjoy it all the more.
Finally, I absolutely loved hearing Karukoski and Colbert share what Tolkien’s meant to them (both encountered him in early teen years and, as they both said, saved them) and geek out about his stories and characters. Books will always come to you at the exact moment you need them.
Can we hang out Stephen Colbert?!
While I wasn’t surprised there was some artistic license (and yes, there are pieces I wish they would have explored more), I do believe this will draw more people into Tolkien’s story and give a deeper appreciation to Middle Earth and Lord of the Rings.
I’ll close with a quote from Colbert on why Tolkien’s stories matter: “The power of story, it can give us hope.”