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article imageReview: ‘Tolkien’ is the tale of where it all truly started Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 10, 2019 in Entertainment
‘Tolkien’ is a charming look at the author’s formative years, when he encountered many of the people and places that would later influence his epic adventures.
A successful saga is a true accomplishment as it requires the storyteller to captivate someone for an extended period of time, bridging multiple installments that may take years to complete. There’s a special kind of magic to that kind of tale, creating devout followers who must see their beloved characters to the end as they’ve stayed with them through thick and thin. Whether in movies or books (or both), these stories are the ones that stay forever in people’s hearts and minds. J.R.R. Tolkien was the writer of one of these great epics, but now fans can learn a little more about the man behind the words in Tolkien.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s (Nicholas Hoult) mother (Laura Donnelly) was a wonderful bedtime storyteller, but illness took her when he was only 12. After being sent to several foster homes, he and his younger brother came to reside with an elderly woman who was more of a benefactor than anything maternal. But in that house he met the love of his life, fellow orphan and pianist Edith (Lily Collins). At his new prestigious school, he became best friends with three other creative lads and formed a club in which they’d share their art and support each other’s endeavours. John went onto Oxford where he eventually landed on studying language, having already created one of his own. His education was interrupted by WWI, which would have a lasting effect on him. But years later, settled into house and home, he’d finally pen his first great adventure, The Hobbit.
While sharing with audiences the biography of a great writer and philologist, this movie is primarily an exploration of Tolkien’s influences for his two greatest tales. As a child, one sees his love of stories was cultivated by his mother who home-schooled the brothers and would make a production out of story time. Similarly, John became adept at spinning a yarn with only the smallest suggestion. His friends would inspire the fellowship, while the ring would be drawn from one of Wagner’s operas. His love of language and ability to create his own explains Elven and the many others in his books. A comrade in the army is clearly his inspiration for Samwise Gamgee, as he swears to remain at John’s side during a personal and dangerous mission. And his fever-induced hallucinations of black apparitions floating across the battlefield likely led to the Ringwraiths.
In addition to these links to two beloved narratives — The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy — Hoult’s wonderful performance is one of the things that keeps audiences engaged. He portrays Tolkien as a caring young man with an exceptional imagination who anyone can’t help but like. It’s unlikely he was charmingly flawless as depicted, but he was clearly observational and very clever. Collins is also lovely in what is essentially the only female character in the picture, providing the inspiration for the Elven women in his stories.
This picture will primarily appeal to fans of Tolkien’s books and to a lesser extent the movies, but it does give admirers some insight into how the author developed such a detailed and prolific world.
Director: Dome Karukoski
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins and Colm Meaney
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