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Thread: Tolkien, A Review

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    Tolkien, A Review

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    One of the advantages of reading biographies is that even if they’re not very good, there remains the consolation of having learned something. Sadly, this is one of the few positive things that can be said about the recent biopic Tolkien.

    Biographies can be tricky to adapt for the screen. Filmmakers will want to adhere to the truth as much as possible while still being able to tell a coherent and thematic story. How much artistic license is too much? I’m sure the answer has to do with whether the subject is still living or whether his estate wields a lot of clout. In the case of beloved fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien, the latter is most certainly true. Not only did the Tolkien estate recently disavow Tolkien, it had also filed a multimillion-pound lawsuit over royalties from the wildly-successful Lord of the Rings films. I’m sure director Dome Karukoski and screenwriters David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford had to tread lightly when telling the story of the man commonly regarded as the father of modern fantasy fiction.

    Perhaps as a result, Tolkien underwhelms. It tells the story of young Tolkien, from his impoverished childhood, through his school years, and into his time in the trenches of the First World War. The story ends in the 1930s, just as he puts pen to paper to write The Hobbit. Many passages in the film are slow and insipid, and, in general, the film suffers from a surfeit of earnestness. Tolkien (played by Nicholas Hoult) is a perfectly nice and sensitive young man. He has a genius for language; he’s haunted by fantastic visions; and he has a slight jealous streak regarding his lover Edith Bratt (played by Lily Collins, the daughter of rock star Phil Collins). Other than that, he’s unremarkable. If this were a fictional story about a fictional author, Tolkien would disappear without a ripple. Because the subject is so famous and important, however, the film has inherent informational value for those who care. Faint praise, I know.

    (...)
    Rest at the above link.
    The sense of honor is of so fine and delicate a nature that
    it is only to be met with in minds which are naturally noble or
    cultivated by good examples and a refined education.
    - Sir Richard Steele

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