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Tolkien (film)

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DirectorDome Karukoski
ProducerPeter Chernin
Jenno Topping
David Ready
Kris Thykier
WriterDavid Gleeson
Stephen Beresford
Starringsee below
MusicThomas Newman
CinematographyLasse Frank
EditingHarri Ylönen
DistributorWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
ReleasedMay 3, 2019
Runtime112 min.
Budget$20 million
WebsiteOfficial website
IMDbIMDb Profile

Tolkien is a 2019 American biographical drama film directed by Dome Karukoski and written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford. The film stars Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, and Derek Jacobi. It was released in the United Kingdom on May 3, 2019 and in the United States on May 10, 2019 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $7 million worldwide on a $20 million budget, making it a box-office bomb.[1]

Some weeks before its released, the Tolkien Estate "wished to make clear that they did not approve of, authorise or participate in the making of this film", and that "they do not endorse it or its content in any way".[2]



Beginning with the childhood of Tolkien in Sarehole Mill, the film covers the early years of his life until the end of the Great War.


As young children being raised by a single mother, Tolkien and his brother receive help from a local priest who must relocate them from their home to small apartments in Birmingham due to financial hardships. Their mother is supportive and loving, filling her sons' minds with narrated stories of adventure and mystery which she recites by the fireplace at night to the boys. She is ill, however, and one day on return from school, Tolkien finds his mother slumped in her chair in an unusual position and upon touching her shoulder, discovers that his mother has died. The local priest returns again to try to find a local home or orphanage that will take the boys in. A kindly rich woman is found in town who will support Tolkien and his brother with room and board while they continue their childhood education. There, Tolkien meets Edith Bratt, who lives in the same home into which he has been adopted and who loves music. She and Tolkien bond as friends because of their mutual passion for music, and the two attend local concerts and musical events. When he is sent to school, J. R. R. Tolkien befriends a group of three fellow students, with whom he finds inspiration and courage. Their bond of fellowship grows with the years, as they experience life together. Meanwhile, Tolkien continues his relationship with Edith, with whom he falls in love. When the priest who has been supporting Tolkien finds out about their affair, he reminds Tolkien that she is not a Roman Catholic. He further states that as Tolkien's legal guardian after the death of Tolkien's mother, he forbids Tolkien from having a relationship with Edith until Tolkien is 21 years of age. The news is devastating to Tolkien, though he does not want to lose his financial aid from the priest without which he would be forced to withdraw from college. When WWI breaks out, the four friends all enlist for military service. The consequences of their loyal military service is devastating to them. Two of the friends die, and one is handicapped by shell shock and is no longer functional after the war due to his mental incapacity. Tolkien himself is gravely injured, though he is evacuated to hospital in England, and he remains unconscious for many weeks. When he awakens, he finds that Edith has been faithfully attending him on a daily basis while he has been in hospital never leaving his side. Deeply moved by her loyalty to him, Tolkien proposes marriage to her as his only true love. The two survive to older age when Tolkien becomes a professor at his old school teaching the young students now enrolled in his classes.


Actor Role
Nicholas Hoult J. R. R. Tolkien
Lily Collins Edith Bratt
Colm Meaney Father Francis Morgan
Derek Jacobi Prof. Joseph Wright
Anthony Boyle Geoffrey Bache Smith
Patrick Gibson Robert Q. Gilson
Adam Bregman young Geoffrey Smith


  1. "Tolkien (2019)" dated 14 June 2019, Box Office Mojo (accessed 3 December 2021)
  2. Alison Flood, "Tolkien estate disavows forthcoming film starring Nicholas Hoult" dated 23 April 2019, The Guardian (accessed 3 December 2021)