Often, the person behind the story is not as interesting as the tale itself but, in the case of The Lord of the Rings penman J.R.R. Tolkien, reality often tops fantasy and, indeed, inspires it in many ways as 2019’s Tolkien illustrates.
How to Download Tolkien
You can download or stream the film from a digital platform. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice. If you like the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, check out the following films and TV series:
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King (2003)
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
- The Rings of Power (2022)
The Movie Review
A movie about the author behind one of the world’s most endearing set of novels later translated into three masterful films by Peter Jackson, Tolkien cannot escape this history and doesn’t really attempt to do that. Instead, we see the director’s take on what could have inspired Tolkien’s works as drawn from the events of the author’s life including his harrowing experiences during the Great War.
Before that, however, we see the childhood experiences that shaped the man behind the pen and, once again, the viewer is greeted with a reality that seems ripped from the pages of a fable.
A widowed mother, the death of a guardian, the uncertainty of what happens next, a benevolent caretaker, a rival-turned-comrade – Tolkien’s childhood is depicted in the style of one of those dismal Disney films from the day showing some poor, forlorn person, lonely, wishing upon a star for a better life. And while the substance of that “better life” might be in the eye of the beholder, there’s no doubt that all viewers will walk away from this film in awe at just how much of a “life” this author, scholar, academic, and father of modern fantasy had.
When reviewing the film, we wondered how much of the LOTR writing process would feature in it and, sadly, not much until the very end. This piece is truly one of biography and exposition rather than a fan piece about how everyone’s favorite author created their favorite books.
In this regard, it is disappointing but the story as presented makes sense in its encapsulated form. One begins to understand how Tolkien’s views as expressed in his works came to be. This is very much a world of good versus evil, of light and dark, and of tragedy as well as triumph.
The cinematography does a great job of blending everything together and pretty much everything comes into place but it all falls apart when you consider the context. Whether it is the Battle of the Somme or the reference to Middle Earth, a certain kind of gravity is robbed from both locations when one is juxtaposed with the other.
To be clear, the Battle of the Somme was a real hell on Earth and a real display of just how brutal modern, industrialized warfare could become. Drawing such direct parallels feels unnecessary and a bit of a stretch, no matter how much it might work from the standpoint of a film.
An elegant film that will give viewers the general contours of Tolkien’s formative years, Tolkien is a masterfully crafted piece that has a few clunky moments here and there. Overall, however, it is a great piece of entertainment with a dash of art thrown in for good measure. It is sure to make fans talk and it is guaranteed to give casual audiences a deeper understanding of Middle Earth’s loremaster.
- A heartfelt, cinematic piece with just enough biography to be credible
- Compelling context and characters
- Contained narrative that is succinct and works on its own terms
- Not the full story
- Tendency to make heavy-handed parallels
- Attempts at art cinema fall flat