It was back in 2013 that Dome Karukoski first announced his upcoming biopic of the great J.R.R Tolkien — that’s John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, in case you were wondering. Since then, this picture seems to have slipped a little under the radar publicity-wise compared to some of the bigger blockbusters in recent years, but it’s certainly not been forgotten by its producers. Fast forward six years and we’ve finally got the fantastic news that Tolkien has wrapped filming and is hitting theaters in May — which, in an era of endless remakes, is remarkably welcome news.
You, like me, probably started off reading Lord of the Rings with the best intentions, but found midway through Two Towers that it was an uphill struggle through a forest of weighty prose. Or, maybe you’re just super committed and have read each novel twice, plus The Silmarillion, as well as The Hobbit and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil a couple of times for good measure. Whatever your situation, I’m certain that a new Tolkien biopic is bound to satisfy all your expectations, looking as promising as it does with an excellent cast and crew.
There’s no sign of any involvement from Peter Jackson (he’s been busy this past year with Mortal Engines and They Shall Not Grow Old) or from fan faves like Elijah Wood or Ian McKellen. However, a standalone biopic might serve well to disambiguate Tolkien from the myths associated with his fiction and tell his story in a unique way. For anyone this side of the Atlantic, the film is bound to resonate on an even deeper level, associated as it is, in part, with the hallowed ground of Oxford, where Tolkien studied alongside lifelong friend and author C. S. Lewis.
The project stars Nicholas Hoult as the titular writer: hot off the heels of his performance in The Favourite, Hoult is bound to be an important frontrunner in the story of such a well-known figure. Additionally, Lily Collins, who has been excellent as Fantine in the ongoing BBC adaptation of Les Misérables, is set to appear as Edith Bratt, Tolkien’s muse and inspiration for Galadriel and Arwen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The synopsis has been revealed, with many comparing its tone to that of recent biopics like the really rather underappreciated Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) and, more recently, of the bittersweet Stan and Ollie(2018). According to Collider:
Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “Fellowship” apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-earth novels.
Helmed by Fox Searchlight and Chernin Entertainment, Tolkien will be released on May 10, 2019. A trailer has yet to be released, but in the meantime, we’ve been given a sneak peek at a possible poster via the dramatic Hobbit-esque title card. I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store, and if that hasn’t put you in the mood to rewatch all three extended editions of Lord of the Rings back to back, then I don’t know what will.