Movie Review: Tolkien, directed by Dome Karukoski (Four Stars)


Movie Review: Tolkien, directed by Dome Karukoski

(Four Stars)

“Where you follow the rhythms of language, I have to tell you, Mr. Tolkien, I’ve never come across anything like it.”

This movie will bomb. Too intellectual and idea driven, like Tolkien’s stories. Little to no action. Solid performances by a cast of unknowns.

“No … you deserve magic.”

Having read much by and about Tolkien, I can attest that this accurately represents the formative years of the greatest story teller of the twentieth century, despite the Tolkien Estate disavowing the film. In fact, reviewing Tolkien’s biography reveals Karukoski et al. took many liberties with fact, hence my labeling this as historical fiction

“There are cakes.”

Like Disney’s treatment of Madeleine L’Engle’s  A Wrinkle in Time, all reference to Tolkien’s faith was excised. Tolkien wrote, “We have come from God and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed, only by myth-making, only by becoming a ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man ascribe to the state of perfection that he knew before the fall.”

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit.”

Book Review: The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, et al. (Five Stars)


Book Review: The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, E.S.C. Weiner, Jeremy Marshal

(Five Stars)

“Writers have been borrowing words from their predecessors for centuries.”

The intersection of Middle Earth and the love of words. Who could want more? (Other folks maybe, but not me.) The best non-fiction I’ve read in years. No, it’s not that well written, but it’s exhaustively researched.

“Within fantasy literature, Tolkien’s coinages and distinctive uses can be found everywhere.”

Before the internet, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was heaven for word lovers to noodle around in. Tolkien worked on the first edition in his first job after World War I.

Lore-master evidently fills a gap, and has apparently made its way out beyond the restricted context of fantasy into general use.”

While the sections on Tolkien’s work on the OED are interesting, the Word Studies are my favorite. Amazing and gratifying to see that Tolkien didn’t just invent words: he researched them. In essence he built an etymology for each word, as if it had developed on its own without his midwifing it. Given his day job, it’s no surprise most sprouted from the rich loam of the Anglo-Saxon languages. (“Middle-earth,” for example, is derived via Middle English middel-erthe, middel-erd from middangeard, an Anglo-Saxon cognate of Old Norse Miðgarðr, the land inhabited by humans in Norse mythology.)

“The English language has begun the process of assimilating Tolkien’s personal word-hoard. And the OED will continue to record this record.”