This review comes in two parts.
First a video. Zan Campbell and Paul Radford recorded their discussion as they drive to see a screening of TOLKIEN in Asheville, NC.
Next, enjoy Zan’s written response to seeing the movie.
Review by Zan Campbell
For any true Tolkien fan the upcoming Tolkien movie is a matter of both great anticipation and great trepidation. When we are talking about the life of a man who has impacted millions – if not tens of millions – of people with his stories and his love for language and beauty, the stakes are high to get it right.
I’ll begin by saying that I think this film is a must-see for any Tolkien fan. Indeed, the more you know about Tolkien and his life story, my guess is the more you will enjoy it. There are lots of little hidden gems that are really precious for those who know his tale. That being said, newcomers may not find the film that entertaining. I would definitely not rank it among be great biographical films of our era, nor indeed among really excellent films. While the film is full of really sweet moments and very delightful imagery, it struggles to find a narrative and the one that it does settle on – the fellowship among Tolkien’s friends of the TCBS – is not as powerful as perhaps it could have been. The film feels more like a very well produced first episode of a Netflix series such as The Crown than a truly completed biography.
For me personally this move struck home. The story of a man seeking beauty, love and joy in a world full of sorrow and trials is very real. His simple love towards others, passion for his craft and desire to use his skills to change the world are very relatable. The film is a good reminder that you do not need to be wealthy, strong or especially brave to be a blessing and a source of joy to others.