Known as the father of modern fantasy literature, J. R. R. Tolkien is one of the most prolific British authors of the last century. His rich and complex imagination has produced tales of elves, wizards, dwarfs, and extraordinary fantasy worlds such as Arda and Middle-earth. Together, his work has formed a literature body of poems, tales, fictional histories, and invented languages that, when published between the 1930s and 1940s, changed the course of fantasy literature. While many other authors at the time had already published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit resulted in a complete resurgence of the modern fantasy genre.
The Hobbit was published in 1937, followed by The Lord of the Rings, written between 1937 and 1949, which he initially intended to be a sequel but turned into a much larger work of art, becoming one of the best-selling novels of all time with over 150 million copies sold. In 2008, Tolkien was honored as one of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945” by The Times, while in 2009, he was ranked in 5th position on the “Top Five Dead Celebrities” list made by Forbes.
Apparently, audiences around the world feel the same about Tolkien, especially since Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies hit the box office. The Tolkien aficionados want more of Tolkien, particularly to know more about his own life story, and reportedly, their dream is about to come true, since the latest news is that a biopic about Tolkien is one step closer to the big screen.
The Finnish director will direct Tolkien, a film which will focus on the events of the author’s life before the beginning of the First World War. Karukoski is considered one of Finland’s greatest talents behind the camera. All of his seven feature films are hits in his home country, including Beauty and the Bastard (2005), The Home of Dark Butterflies (2008), Heart of a Lion (2013), and Tom of Finland (2017).
Reportedly, the storyline will center on Tolkien and his group of friends (Robert Gilson, Geoffrey Bache Smith, and Christopher Wiseman), who called themselves “The Tea Club and Bavarian Society” (TCBS). The four friends attended school together and became very close, enjoying a passion for writing that they shared and critiqued. During those years, Tolkien cultivated his dedication to writing poetry and traveling, probably his main catalysts for creating Middle-earth as the backbone of both of his best-known works.
Their enthusiastic companionship was shadowed by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and they joined the military and fought in the front lines. The tragic outcome was the death of Smith and Gilson, killed in the war, an event that profoundly affected Tolkien who once stated that the war “had come down like winter on his creative powers in their first bloom.” Later, he incorporated these horrific experiences into The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, presenting the brutality of warfare and depicting the utterly painful sense of loss that overwhelmed post-war Europe. It has been suggested that this inspired Tolkien to vividly render the war against Sauron and the destruction of the Shire.
Nicholas Hoult, the actor who starred in X-Men: First Class and Mad Max: Fury Road, will animate the life of Tolkien. The movie’s script was written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford, who, as they’ve stated, focus on the author as “he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a fellow group of outcasts prior to the outbreak of WWI.”
However, this is not the only biopic about Tolkien in the works. Last year, New Line Cinema announced that a film called Middle Earth was being put together by director James Strong, the author of Downton Abbey and Broadchurch.
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This biopic will follow Tolkien’s relationship with Edith Bratt, his wife and muse, who inspired him to write The Tale of Tinúviel, a romance between a mortal named Beren and an elf, Lúthien, which Tolkien completed in 1917.