Upcoming Movies: Tolkien


Amazon Studios is considering a TV remake of The Lord of the Rings, which irritates me to no end, since, of course, I adore the 2001-2003 movies and am a huge fan of the books. And, as we’ve discussed here before, remakes are the worst. But as we’ve also stated, fantasy flicks aren’t within our purview, so I’m not going to go further on that topic. Although, additional reports said this TV series might be a prequel to The Fellowship of the Ring, but wouldn’t that be The Hobbit?. Folks, unless you are bringing The Silmarillion or maybe Tom Bombadil to the screen, it’s a fucking remake and I’m still annoyed.

However, all of this Middle-Earth talk is a convenient intro for a movie I can get onboard with — at some point in 2018, we’ll be seeing a theatrical biopic of J.R.R. Tolkien starring Nicholas Hoult as the author and Lily Collins as his wife-to-be, Edith Bratt. The film is titled simply, Tolkien, and has been filming in the U.K. recently.

1910s J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1910s

1910s Edith Bratt

Edith Bratt in the 1910s

The film focuses on Tolkien’s life around the time of World War I, when Ronald (as he was called) was just finishing his studies at Oxford and met Edith. His guardian, Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan (Tolkien’s parents had died when he was young), disapproved of the relationship and thought the boy should focus on school. The couple were separated and didn’t reunite until 1913 and married three years later. A few months after their wedding, Ronald was called up to serve as a second lieutenant in France and ended up at the Battle of the Somme. While he spent just about a year at the front due to medical issues, the horrors of the war deeply affected him and were reflected in his writings. As he said in a letter, “By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead.”

1916, J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien in 1916

Just taking this slice of his life story should give the film enough drama and pathos, plus romance, for a decent two hours. And hopefully it’ll give a little insight into the author behind the classic fantasy novels, at least for people who aren’t already hardcore fans.

misc cast, Tolkien (2018)

Very Edwardian styles on these actors.

Nicholas Hoult & Genevieve O'Reilly, Tolkien (2018)

Genevieve O’Reilly talking to Nicholas Hoult. Not sure what role she plays in the film, but her coat is exquisite with tone-on-tone embroidery and little buttons at the center back.

Lily Collins & Nicholas Hoult, Tolkien (2018)

Can’t tell if Lily Collins is wearing bloomers or her skirt is bunched up or too short or what. But from the waist up, this is an excellent look (that purse she’s carrying in all these shots is straight out of the V&A Museum).

misc cast, Tolkien (2018)

Misc. cast hanging out.

Lily Collins & Nicholas Hoult, Tolkien (2018)

Love love love this grey coat on Collins — the embroidery or applique at the waist and cuffs has an art nouveau feel.

misc cast, Tolkien (2018)

That center dress in yellow-orange ombre is TO.DIE.FOR — it appears to have embroidery on the hem, rows of buttons, and a period belt. She looks rather fashion-forward next to the more Edwardian ladies around her, but this is a behind-the-scenes photos, so maybe they’re not in the same shots.

Lily Collins & Nicholas Hoult, Tolkien (2018)

Collins wearing what looks like a dinner gown. Hoult is quite the image of Tolkien here.

Tolkiens' grave

The tombstone for Edith and J.R.R. Tolkien gives a nod to his Middle-Earth love story of Luthien and Beren, which was inspired by Tolkien’s own affection for his wife.


Are you looking forward to the Tolkien movie?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

32 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    OK course I’m looking forward to seeing it. Tolkien is my all-time favourite author. The casting & costumes look spot on. Wonder who the costume designer is?

    As for the spawn of Sauron, Amazon projected LOTR series. Anathema!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Sorry I didn’t mention it in the text, but we do always include the costume designer in the tags — for Tolkien, it’s Colleen Kelsall.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        Thanks. These costumes thankfully are without head necklaces like she did in Dr. Thorne. 😇

  2. Charity

    I wondered how long it would take them to get around to making a movie on Tolkien — it has always struck me as odd there isn’t one! (I’d like more films on C.S. Lewis was well… maybe some not about his wife and her death? You know, so I can avoid crying over them?)

    My reaction to a potential TV remake of LotR made me go WUT???

    And then I went, HMM.

    I LOVE PJ’s films, they are awesome, but I’d also be interested to see someone else’s take on them. I know most of my friends wish someone ELSE would do The Hobbit (they absolutely hated PJ’s take on it; I’m about 50/50 — Thranduil, Gandalf, the Elves, etc., are all epic, but the damn thing is too long and drawn out!).

    • Sara L.

      Oh my god, Shadowlands, I cried my freaking eyes out over that movie.

      And I am ambivalent to negative on a new LOTR. When those movies came out, I said, “Whelp, that’s it, if nobody made another movie ever again, I’d still be happy.” So I like them just a little bit ;) But I’m not against it, per say. But, how many other fantastic fantasy and sci fi series could benefit from some kind of filmed treatment? How long do I have to wait for someone to recognize the genius of Lois McMaster Bujold?

      Anyway, I digress. I will definitely be watching this movie. I very much enjoyed the Tolkien biography written by Tom Shippey, so I can see that a movie dramatizing his early life will definitely be interesting.

      • Charity

        There’s two different versions of Shadowlands, and I cried over both so much, I thought my head was going to split open. Needless to say, it’s not an experience I have repeated. :P

        I LOVE the LotR films. No joke, they got me my best friend (we met on a LotR forum, and found out we lived in the same state), and I don’t think that a better Gandalf exists than Ian McKellen, who is awesomeness wrapped in a human form; but I’m also a tad bit curious about what they might DO with it. Peter Jackson changed it so much from the books (sometimes in awesome ways, such as giving Arwen a bigger role / emphasizing her relationship with Aragorn so I cared) that I think there’s a lot of adaptive leeway for some other writer / director to explore a different side to the same story. So, we’ll see. It may never even come to pass.

        What about some of the cool books that were turned into god-awful adaptations? I’m reading The Last Apprentice (called The Spook’s Apprentice in England) and keep thinking, damn, this would make an awesome television series. They made a horrible movie a few years back where they butchered the story to an insane degree; the irony is the books are so much more cinematic and downright CREEPY than the crap-fest they came up with on screen! Or how about Legends of Earthsea? Or better yet, the Dealing with Dragons book? I would KILL to see Cimoriene (is that how you spell it?) leave her kingdom to go live with a dragon and volunteer to clean her armor, while the dragons battle the wizards and she routinely tells knights hoping to rescue her to GET LOST. I lived for those four books when I was… uh, twelve. Hah.

        I’ve talked too long. Must shut up now.

      • Trystan L. Bass

        “how many other fantastic fantasy and sci fi series could benefit from some kind of filmed treatment?” THIS. Much as we have a whole tab devoted to Forgotten History, I got into an argument on another blog about why we don’t need another Tolkien remake (which was being argued for ‘bec. it could be remade w/diversity’) bec. there are SO MANY other stories that could be put on film (including plenty w/built-in diversity, FFS). Really, Game of Thrones was just another fantasy series before HBO took a risk on it.

    • Sarah

      So i actually know that the lord of the rings tv show amazon is doing is time frame between the hobbit and lord of the rings and possibly a little bit before and a little bit after. So its not a remake of the movies, its basically just adding more to the stories that were already made.

      • Charity

        It’ll be interesting to see who they cast as Aragon, Gandalf, and others, then. I’m tentatively excited — hopeful they won’t mess it up and hopeful it’ll be amazing.

        • Sarah

          I’m actually planning on auditioning for the lord of the rings tv show.

  3. Nzie

    Tolkien is kind of a hot property right now. I’m very interested in this. I’m withholding judgment on the Amazon series. The costumes do look amazing and I’m excited because my first foray into historical costuming this year was this era (albeit recreating Wonder Woman’s women’s auxiliary suit). I just hope that this biopic does him justice. It seems like films about people who were religious either end up in the Christian flick genre (often poor quality) or they just kind of write something out that was clearly important to the person him or herself. Amazing Grace and The Man Who Knew Infinity I think hit a good balance (authentic to the person while accessible to everyone) but they’re rare.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I do wonder how / if this film will treat the religion issue — Edith converted to Catholicism for Tolkien, which was a big deal & a big part of the Luthien inspiration (her giving up something essential to be with him). So it would be inaccurate to leave it out entirely.

      • Joe

        I agree – in fact, Tolkien’s Catholicism was not merely central to his personal life, but deeply influenced his writings, though he worked very hard never to make obvious religious references (cf. his famous statement that he cordially disliked allegories, which is why he didn’t care for Lewis’ Narnia books). If the movie doesn’t take this into account, that should count as a serious black mark against it in reviewers’ accounts.

  4. Kelsey

    I’m definitely looking forward to this, and tentatively looking forward to the Amazon series as well. There’s actually quite a bit written by Tolkien that’s post Silmarillion and Pre- Hobbit that could make a good series. Kings of Numenor, anyone? If they go there, I’ll be excited.
    But also, real life of Tolkien is a win.

  5. Alys Mackyntoich

    I am in love with that tone-on-tone embroidery coat with the fur collar. LOVE.

    As for the Amazon series, I’m praying it’s the Silmarillion or Rangers vs. the Witch-King of Angmar and not an actual LoTR remake, which no one needs.

  6. Abby

    I cannot wait for this movie! The costumes already look gorgeous! I just hope Nicholas Hoult can live up to his character’s name!!
    As for the Amazon series, I am waiting to pass judgement just yet but can’t wait to do a Middle Earth party again!

  7. Leah

    The new series isn’t a LotR remake, but a kind of prequel — Middle Earth before the events of The Hobbit. It could be good, or it could be awful, just cashing in on the fantasy epic craze. I hope it’s good. This biopic looks like it has potential.

  8. Shellie Eyre

    Bit confused about the dates; they meet around the time of WWI but are separated and meet again in 1913 – which is before the start of WWI, and marry in 1916 which is before the end of the war.

      • Shellie Eyre

        Is that the definition of “Around the time of WWI”? That would make 1910 – 1920 “around the time of WWI”, which seems exceptionally vague when using a very specific 4 year period as a marker. Would you define 1935 as “around the time of WWII? It’s 4 years before it kicked off just as 1910 is 4 years before the start of WWI. Your piece, your definition but it doesn’t feel right to me.

        • Trystan L. Bass

          The ’10s is a decade, and as such, in incorporates the First World War, among other things. Saying “around the time of” a thing is vague & broad, intentionally so. Not sure what you’re hung up on here.

  9. Black Tulip

    Judging from most of these pictures, the budget for hairpins was clearly HUGE.

    Yes, that is the first thing I look at these days. Frock Flicks, you’ve ruined/educated me (delete as appropriate).

  10. Fabio Arancio

    When will this movie be released? As of today there has been no announcement yet. Weird. As far as i know, the principal photography ended around dec 2017. One year has gone… and there is no movie release date. Boh…

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I keep checking for details, but nothing more has come up! I’m worried, it’s never a good sign when the behind-the-scenes PR stops…

      • Fabio Arancio

        I just got told that the movie will be released on may 10, 2019! Good news for us! The date of release is official. After a year of hiatus, it’s finally coming.