Warning: spoilers ahead
As a child growing up in Finland, filmmaker Dome Karukoski felt an unusually strong kinship with fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien.
“I was first exposed to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings when I was 12 or 13, and those books were life-changing for me,” Karukoski told The Christian Post. “I was an outsider who was bullied. I craved friends. When I read those books, it was like the characters became friends of mine.”
“Like Tolkien, I grew up without a father, and we were incredibly poor,” he said. “We didn’t even have running water, so the theme of poverty and Tolkien’s experience with hardship really resonated with me.”
Karukoski’s respect and appreciation for the legendary Lord of the Rings author are evident in his new film “Tolkien,” starring Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins. The first-ever film about Tolkien, the biopic respectfully explores the formative years of the writer’s life, from his years at Oxford to his time in the trenches of the First World War.
Through a series of flashbacks, the film reveals how Tolkien’s conception of Middle-earth and its various inhabitants stem from his own deep friendships, marriage to Edith Bratt, and horrifying experiences as a soldier.
“Often, the storybooks and newspapers tell us of the C.S. Lewis/Tolkien era, but little attention is given to his earlier life and friendships,” Karukoski said. “But I think those years were so instrumental to his writing. The poverty aspect, in particular, I think will surprise some. I always thought of him as a privileged white man but really, he had to fight his way to the light. That’s one of the main reasons we narrowed his timeline.”
The film opens in the English village of Sarehole, where a young Tolkien develops a love for fantasy from his widowed mother, Mabel (Laura Donnelly). Unfortunately, Mabel soon dies, leaving Tolkien and his brother orphaned and placed in the care of Father Francis Morgan (Colm Meaney).
A true academic who created over a dozen languages, Tolkien soon becomes a top student at the distinguished King Edward’s School in Birmingham. There, he meets three classmates — Christopher Wiseman (Ty Tennant), Robert Gilson (Albie Marber) and Geoffrey Smith (Adam Bregman) — who will become his closest friends. The friends, who dub themselves “The Tea Club,” vow to “change the world” through “the power of art.”
Around the same time, Tolkien meets the bright and attractive pianist Edith Bratt (Collins).
After getting into Oxford, the Great War is announced. Tolkien and his friends find themselves in the trenches for the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest conflicts in British military history.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett