By James Davidson
“Tolkien” is a biographical film that was released in May of 2019. It is available on DVD/bluray, and is currently streaming on the HBO Max streaming service. It follows the formative years of the famous author J.R.R. Tolkien as he finds friendships, love, and his artistic inspiration in early twentieth century England.
I have been a huge fan of Tolkien and his work since I was a young boy. I had heard about this movie when it was first released and was excited about it, so when I saw that it was available to stream, I jumped at the chance to review this film. I knew a little about Tolkien’s life already, but was interested to see how this biopic interpreted it.
The film follows mostly Tolkien’s earlier years, before he wrote his first novel, The Hobbit. It follows him through being orphaned, being accepted into Oxford and discovering his love of languages and creating mythology based on those languages, and his participation in World War I. It shows him developing friendships that will last a lifetime and meeting his future wife, Edith.
I thought that this movie was extremely well ected, Nicholas Hoult portrays Tolkien to perfection and does an amazing job portraying the struggles that Tolkien had to endure throughout his early years. His chemistry with the rest of the cast, specifically Lily Collins, who plays Edith is fantastic. I could feel the bonds building between Edith and Tolkien throughout the movie and it was very believable. His chemistry with his group of friends, the Tea Club, Barrovian Society, or T.C.B.S., a club that Tolkien and his schoolboy friends founded to talk about literature and art, is also incredible. It was gratifying to feel the friendships forming and watch the members help each other through life.
The one caveat about this story is that it is a very slow paced film. The story itself moves forward at a decent pace, there just isn’t much action. While I was invested in the story, there were times when I wished that something more exciting would happen. I was able to overlook this for the most part since I was interested in the plot.
I was excited to learn some new things about Tolkien’s life that I didn’t know about before. I was unaware of the T.C.B.S. and its members before I watched this movie, and I was interested to learn more about it. I was also intrigued by the story of how Tolkien and Edith met and the obstacles that they had to overcome in order to be married. What I found the most interesting though, was seeing where the inspiration for the beloved Middle Earth novels came from. The film does a great job at showing that Tolkien drew his inspiration from everyday words and events from which he created entire languages and mythos .
This movie is rated PG-13 for some sequences of war violence. There are several war scenes of Tolkien as he fights in WWI and these scenes can be a bit violent and disturbing. Other than these few scenes, a majority of the film is fairly appropriate for everybody, although younger children might have a hard time paying attention through the slower parts.
“Tolkien” is a fantastic biopic, that can be a bit slow at times, but has some incredible acting and cinematography. There were several shots that were beautiful and breathtaking. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and want to learn more about the author and what inspired the stories, this is a must see film. It earns 4 out of 5 stars.