Lord of the Rings is my favorite book. I’ve read it at least half a dozen times or so, and we won’t talk about how many times I’ve seen each of the films. As much as I know that story inside and out, I knew little of the author, JRR Tolkien. Hell, I had to rack my brain to remember that JRR stands for John Ronald Reuel, so I was very excited to dive into this story about the man behind all the myths.

Tolkien follows the early life of the author, from his childhood as an orphan, to the friendships he formed in school, to his wartime experiences and the love of his life Edith (Lily Collins). There are a few creative licenses taken, but it shows how the forces in his life influenced the characters and stories he would one day be famous for. I adored every second of it, but not for the reason I expected.

I expected a lot of Middle Earth magic and references to that world that I am so enamored with. It was there, of course, but it was subtly laced into the beautiful period piece. Now I typically don’t care for period pieces, but this didn’t feel so weighty as they often are. It was light and magical. The vibe I was getting specifically reminded me of that version of The Secret Garden with Maggie Smith. The setting was rich and the sense of wonder in the atmosphere was palpable. I can’t remember when I last saw a film that had that balance so beautifully done.

This film also appealed to the literary nerd in me. Again, not specifically the LOTR tie ins, but the overall love of arts and language made me feel like I was curled up with a good classic book, perhaps diving into Little Women for the 4th time. It’s been so long since that side of me was stimulated, just that feeling nearly brought me to tears. There were moments in the film that did that as well, and some that made me smile so brightly.

What also made me smile? I went to an early screening that was followed by a live stream Q&A between Stephen Colbert, the stars, and the director. Colbert is known as the world’s biggest Tolkien fan, and more than anything I just wanted to hear what he thought about the film and see him geek out over it. The interview did not disappoint. I hope the internet makes it available sometime because watching it was such a treat. The perfect dessert to the lovely film I’d just experienced

Tolkien – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/