‘Tolkien’ film synopsis, release date: Biopic of Christian ‘Lord of the Rings’ author J.R.R. Tolkien to hit big screen

Nicholas Hoult plays a young J.R.R. Tolkien in the biopic "Tolkien." | REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

“Tolkien,” a biographical drama based on the life of Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, is slated for a May 10 release and will explore the early life, love, and friendships of the Christian novelist.

Directed by Finnish filmmaker Dome Karukoski, the film stars Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien and Lily Collins as Edith Bratt, Tolkien's wife and muse who inspired the elven princess characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Deadline reports.

According to the synopsis, the film will focus on the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at Oxford University.

These events lead to the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “fellowship” — which included fellow Christian authors C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams — apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous novels, including The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books.

Written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford, “Tolkien” is the first major motion picture to delve into the life of the mythmaker, although movies made off his books have made billions at the box office and sparked TV spinoffs. A new "Lord of the Rings" series is in development at Amazon Studios.

With book sales in the 250-300 million range, Tolkien remains one of the most beloved and influential authors today. While the famed storyteller died in 1973, he’s widely regarded as the father of modern fantasy.

A devout Christian, Tolkien’s enduring faith was central to his life and is expressed in his novels through symbolism and imagery. He once said: “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.”

Tolkien and Chronicles of Narnia author C. S. Lewis were close friends, and Tolkien is credited with bringing Lewis back to the Christian faith. In turn, Lewis inspired Tolkien to write and publish his stories. Through myth and legend, the two authors saw storytelling as a way to relay the Gospel to Christian and secularized readers alike. 

In his work Surprised by Joy, Lewis wrote about his friendship with the Lord of the Rings author.

"When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two other friends, both Christians (these queer people seemed now to pop up on every side) who were later to give me much help in getting over the last stile. They were HVV Dyson ... and JRR Tolkien. Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both."

"Tolkien" also stars Colm Meaney, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Tom Glynn-Carney, Craig Roberts, Laura Donnelly, Genevieve O'Reilly, Pam Ferris, and Derek Jacobi.

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