I just came back from watching the movie Tolkien. On the way to the theater my husband and I were listening to the radio. Someone came on air with a review that pretty much knocked the movie out of the water. I was ready to say to my husband “Well that’s it then,” and suggest we turn around and go home.
That radio review was not the first negative review I’ve heard or read about the movie either. Unfortunately, I’m assuming many people will listen to those reviews and not bother to see the movie.
Being a filmmaker, I have a differing opinion. I like to approach a movie with an open mind because nine times out of ten, I differ in opinion from the critics. Well, it happened again.
I found this movie expertly produced. The casting, the costuming, the sets were just beautiful. The reenactment of life in the trenches during WWI was emotive. From what I’ve read about Tolkien, and how the war affected him and his writing, the story was spot on. There was much more to the man than an hour and 12 minutes can cover. But for an introduction, Tolkien did a really good job of allowing us to see a part of his life.
As a fantasy author, the movie touched home. I think that perhaps, judging from the critics, one must almost be a fantasy author to understand.
We see J.R.R. Tolkien’s childhood and the heartbreaks he experienced, all a part of who he was and how he let himself slip into another world.
The movie dramatizes the creation of the languages he invented which he used in his fantasy novels later in life.
In the appendices to Lord of the Rings Extended Version there is a documentary on J.R.R. Tolkien which tells of his deep depression during one of the most brutal wars in history, and how after the war he coped with the death of his close friends through his writing and the magic of a fantasy world.
J.R.R. Tolkien was a passionate man who saw the world in more than one dimension, something that science fiction and fantasy authors do on a daily basis, but which is uncommon for those who don’t appreciate or understand the genre.
If I were to sum up the movie in one word, that word would be “sensitive”.
I was brought to tears in a few places and I think those who have the sensitivity of an artist will enjoy the film. It’s no Lord of the Rings, no. Do not expect it to be. This is a story about a compassionate man with revolutionary ideas concerning the world around him, and his journey to tell the tale of evil and the fight for survival which often can only be heard through parables.
Perhaps the motion picture world of glamor, glitter and superheroes cannot slow itself down enough to breathe in a quiet and compassionate telling of a man who addressed so many wrongs in this world. But I would hope others would take the time.
You who read my blog know that I’m a fantasy story advocate. Not only do I read and write fantasy, I encourage the indulgence of it. Why? Because we were given imaginations to cushion us from the cruelties of this world. Not an escape, my friends, but an open window that lets us breath in some fresh air!
(FYI…for Christians who complain that not enough of Tolkien’s Christianity came through in the film, if you look closely you will see a crucified Jesus on the battlefield. I don’t think much more than that needs to be said.)