A long-overdue look into the life of J. R. R. Tolkien


By Amanda Gabriel

Senior Writer

When we take the plunge into the mind and lives of great writers and creative thinkers, we can’t help but be filled with wonder and awe.

A look into the mind of renowned English writer J. R. R. Tolkien is certain to spark that same feeling.

He is the author of monumental high fantasy works like “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” Both have been hailed as literary masterpieces, and have been adapted to award-winning films.

The facets of Tolkien’s personal life seem as full of richness as any of his literary works.

A polymath, a Great War veteran, a graduate of Oxford University, a member of The Inklings, a famous literary circle: these are all things for which Tolkien has come to be known.

This year, however, the world will see him in a slightly new light, and in more detail. A new biopic, entitled “Tolkien,” is being released in theaters in May.

The film is directed by renowned Finnish director, Dome Karukoski, and is written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford.

It will explore the early personal experiences that inspired Tolkien’s visions of his literary worlds, the real-life people he based his characters off of, and a love that would stand the test of time.

Other themes that the filmmakers plan to explore include the effects of war on an individual, as well as adolescence in a rapidly changing society.

Of all people to be deserving of a biopic, Tolkien should be at the very top of the list.

His work has proven to be vital and foundational to the fantasy genre, influencing thousands of writers, including his good friend C.S. Lewis, who wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

No writer since has quite been able to match Tolkien’s level of influence or his comprehensive and detailed vision.

He is said to have devoted entire days to writing poetry and prose in his own invented Elvish languages.

A lifetime philologist, Tolkien invented dozens of languages for his works. Language, to him, was a central concern.

As Tracy Mumford of MPR News explained, “Middle Earth and the ‘Lord of the Rings’ epics were created around [Tolkien’s] constructed languages. Basically, he invented words and needed speakers.”

Tolkien’s works, though, aren’t simply pedantic exercises. They’ve given generations of readers enduring stories about the power of friendship and fellowship, peace and sacrifice.

There’s little doubt that Tolkien’s work and legacy, his commitment to building new worlds, will continue to inspire us.

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