By Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (Rated G)
Originally titled “A Very Brief Review of Humphrey Carpenter’s Biography of Tolkien and a Grumpy Review of the Stupid Movie (Harrumph)”
J.R.R. Tolkien, a Biography by Humphrey Carpenter is a nice little biography for those who love Tolkien and the Inklings. Humphrey Carpenter’s several biographies are always well-researched and, even when alluding to awkward moments in the subjects’ lives, infinitely kind and generous.
As for the recent film (Tolkien, 2019), it fails in every way, in structure, lighting, plotting, and the now-obligatory intrusions of razzle-me/dazzle-me computer cartooning. One longs for a movie free of electronics. The biggest failing, however, one which stamps a veto on the entire project (which does feature some good moments), is the filmmakers’ dishonesty and violation of artistic ethics in deleting Catholicism from Tolkien’s life. One need not approve or disapprove of Catholicism to understand the lack of integrity here; Tolkien’s faith, one which he believed his mother to have died for because of family persecution, was the basis of everything he believed, lived, and wrote.
The young actors are fine in their roles; they certainly deserved better of The Suits (only I suppose now they are not The Suits but rather The Tee-Shirts).