Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Tom Glynn-Carney, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Colm Meaney, Genevieve O’Reilly, Craig Roberts, Derek Jacobi, James MacCallum, Guillermo Bedward, Pam Ferris
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Bio-drama directed by Dome Karukoski, based on the life of English professor, philologist and author J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult). The story explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “fellowship” apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels.
Our Favorite Quotes:'I can die in any way the fates choose, that's not up to me. But what is within my power is to decide how I live. Courageously or timidly.' - Robert Gilson (Tolkien) Click To Tweet 'Things aren't beautiful because of how they sound. They're beautiful because of what they mean.' - Edith Bratt (Tolkien) Click To Tweet 'To love someone, who, for whatever reason, cannot return your feelings is painful. But if you listen to the poets, perhaps there's a kind of beauty to that love.' - Geoffrey Smith (Tolkien) Click To Tweet
Best Quotes (Total Quotes: 33)
Mabel Tolkien: “Ubi bene ibi patria.” Remember that, my darling?
Young Tolkien: Wherever you feel happy, that’s your home.
Mabel Tolkien: We will find our place, sweetheart, we will. Lock all this all in your heart. Lock it tight, and it will be there forever, I promise.
Mabel Tolkien: Do you know what impecunious circumstances are?
Young Tolkien: They’re what we’re in?
Mabel Tolkien: When I was a little girl, all the new novels began like this. A family of good and brave people who suddenly find themselves in impecunious circumstances.
Young Tolkien: How did they escape?
Mabel Tolkien: By coming across some marvelous treasure. Or else by marrying well.
Hilary Tolkien (Young): I’m not marrying anyone.
Mabel Tolkien: Well, it’ll have to be the treasure then, won’t it?
Young Tolkien: But, um, people don’t find treasure, mother. Not in real life.
Mabel Tolkien: There’s no fooling you, is there, John Ronald? Let’s just say there’s treasure, and there’s treasure, and leave it at that.
English Master: Tolkine.
Young Tolkien: It’s Keen, sir.
English Master: What?
Young Tolkien: It’s pronounced Tolkeen, sir. Not Tolkine. Sorry.
English Master: Sit down.
Headmaster Gilson: Men should be comrades, wherever they come from. From the highest, to the lowest. You and Master…
Robert Gilson (Young): Tolkien.
Headmaster Gilson: …will demonstrate this to the rest of the school. You will do everything together for the rest of the term.
Robert Gilson (Young): But, sir…
Headmaster Gilson: Everything.
Robert Gilson (Young): Yes, sir.
Young Tolkien: He’s made us liegemen. Isn’t that a little excessive?
Robert Gilson (Young): It’s an impossible standard. It’s designed to humiliate me.
Young Tolkien: Doesn’t it also humiliate me?
Robert Gilson (Young): You’re irrelevant.
Young Tolkien: Why do you keep on saying that?
Robert Gilson (Young): Because it’s true.
Young Tolkien: No, listen. I may not come from a respectable background…
Robert Gilson (Young): It’s not that, you idiot. You’re irrelevant to the headmaster.
Young Tolkien: And you’re not?
Robert Gilson (Young): No.
Young Tolkien: Oh, because you’re special?
Robert Gilson (Young): Because I’m his son.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): My father is a perfect example. He knows about music. He loves it. He spent the greater part of his youth studying and composing music.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): [to Tolkien] Christopher has had several musical pieces published.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): Not several. One.
Robert Gilson (Young): Pass me the sugar.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): And yet when it comes to pursuing a life as a composer, no. “Musical dreams are a fantasy. You will do as I did. You will put them aside.”
Robert Gilson (Young): And where does the stick come in?
Christopher Wiseman (Young): The stick was a metaphor. Move on from the stick.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): My mother’s exactly the same. She values poetry. She loves it. She refuses to see it as a potential career. She sees me as a lawyer, or an accountant.
Robert Gilson (Young): Does she carry a stick?
Christopher Wiseman (Young): I’m going to go outside and fetch a stick, how about that?
Robert Gilson (Young): Thank you. Well, at least your parents discuss it. If I even mentioned becoming a painter, I’d be disowned. No. I’d be decapitated.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): There! That’s the stick.
Young Tolkien: What about you?
Edith Bratt (Young): What about me?
Young Tolkien: There must be something that you want?
Edith Bratt (Young): To get out of here. To be free. I would go somewhere where I wouldn’t feel like a poor orphan, and everybody would be dressed like kings and queens. I wouldn’t be there to play piano. Or to carry Mrs. Faulkner’s purse. I’d be greeted and appreciated.
Young Tolkien: Welcomed.
Edith Bratt (Young): Welcomed.
Robert Gilson (Young): Gentlemen, a thought. You know what the trouble is with all these legends Tolkien reads?
Young Tolkien: Enlighten me, Robbie.
Robert Gilson (Young): They don’t have any women in them. I’m not talking about pale, shivering maidens sitting in towers. I’m talking about plump, red-blooded women.
Man: Could you sit down, please?
Robert Gilson (Young): The women of Southern Europe. Women with large flagons of wine on their heads.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): Robbie, are you incapable of sitting in silence?
Robert Gilson (Young): Like our waitress, just over there.
Robert Gilson (Young): What are you reading now?
Young Tolkien: I’m reading about the realm of the dead. Or at least trying to.
Robert Gilson (Young): See what I mean?
Young Tolkien: Presided over by a giant woman, as it happens. Hel, a huge and ruthless goddess. Is that not red-blooded enough for you?
Christopher Wiseman (Young): It is our waitress.
Robert Gilson (Young): Hel?
Young Tolkien: Yes, she rules over the realm of the dead. Helheimr. It’s a place where warriors are sent if they die in the wrong way.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): What’s the wrong way?
Young Tolkien: Peacefully. Illness, old age. Anything other than battle.
Robert Gilson (Young): Now, that’s an idea I can get behind.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): I’m sorry, you’re getting behind dying in battle now?
Robert Gilson (Young): Not literally. I can die in any way the fates choose, that’s not up to me. But what is within my power is to decide how I live. Courageously or timidly.
Robert Gilson (Young): Helheimr! It should be our warning. Our challenge.
Young Tolkien: Yes, I know. But you should learn how to pronounce it first.
Robert Gilson (Young): Come on. Challenge me. Set me a quest. I’ll show you how to avoid Helheimr.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): I challenge you to sit in silence for twenty-five minutes.
Robert Gilson (Young): Shut up, Geoffrey. I’m serious.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): Propose to the waitress.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): Christopher.
Young Tolkien: What?
Robert Gilson (Young): An excellent idea.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): Robbie, don’t you dare do anything of the kind.
Robert Gilson (Young): That’s what I call a quest against Helheimr.
[as he begins to approach the waitress, he turns back]
Robert Gilson (Young): Helheimr!
Young Tolkien: We should form a club.
Robert Gilson (Young): What?
Young Tolkien: A brotherhood.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): Aren’t we already a club? A tea drinking club.
Robert Gilson (Young): A tea drinking club, sounds like something my stepmother would go to.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): The Tea Club.
Robert Gilson (Young): It doesn’t sound any better just because you repeated it.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): The Birmingham Boys.
Robert Gilson (Young): That sounds like a circus act. The Boys of Barrow’s Stores.
Young Tolkien: Barrovians. The Tea Club and Barrovian Society.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): I think that’s far too long.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): The TCBS.
Young Tolkien: The TCBS.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): Are you sure that doesn’t sound like a disease?
Young Tolkien: No, listen, I don’t care what it’s called. As long as we pledge our loyalty to each other.
Robert Gilson (Young): Exactly.
Christopher Wiseman (Young): TCBS. That’s settled. Now what do we do?
Robert Gilson (Young): We change the world.
Geoffrey Smith (Young): Oh, good. Something simple.
Robert Gilson (Young): Through art, you clown. Through the power of art.
Young Tolkien: Brothers, will you join your comrades in this act of changing the world?
Robert, Christopher, Geoffrey: We will.
Robert Gilson (Young): Helheimr!
[Tolkien is speaking in his made up language]
Edith Bratt: What does it mean?
J.R.R. Tolkien: Oh, it’s nonsense. It’s about an old man who’s watching an unlucky frog who can’t land softly, so he gets eaten by a dog.
Edith Bratt: [laughs] And you invented that?
J.R.R. Tolkien: Yes.
Edith Bratt: The entire language?
J.R.R. Tolkien: Verb structures, vocabulary, everything.
J.R.R. Tolkien: My next language will have a music to it. Cellar door.
Edith Bratt: Cellar door?
J.R.R. Tolkien: That’s the most musical word I can think of. Cellar door, there’s something about the fall of it. The rounding of the mouth.
Edith Bratt: Cellar door.
J.R.R. Tolkien: If you say it over and over, it starts to be something magical.
Edith Bratt: Cellar door. Cellar door. I think that’s nonsense.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I mean, it is if you say it like that.
Edith Bratt: A word isn’t beautiful just because of its sound.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Cellar door.
Edith Bratt: It’s the marriage of sound and meaning. The door to the cellar, a place where something magical and mysterious might happen.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I’m sorry, have you just dismissed the basis of my entire language?
Edith Bratt: But your language isn’t worth anything unless you remember this important fact.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Oh, is that right?
Edith Bratt: It is, yes.
Edith Bratt: Listen.
[she holds up her hand]
Edith Bratt: Hand. That might be a beautiful word…
J.R.R. Tolkien: Yes, it is.
Edith Bratt: But it means so much more because of what we associate it with.
[she touches her hand to Tolkien’s]
Edith Bratt: Touch. Things aren’t beautiful because of how they sound. They’re beautiful because of what they mean.
Edith Bratt: Tell me a story.
J.R.R. Tolkien: What?
Edith Bratt: The story of Cellar Door.
J.R.R. Tolkien: No, I can’t.
Edith Bratt: Why not? When someone asks me to play the piano…
J.R.R. Tolkien: That’s a different thing altogether.
Edith Bratt: Tell me a story. In any language you want.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Don’t be ridiculous.
Edith Bratt: The legend of Cellar Door.
J.R.R. Tolkien: No, I’m not a performing monkey.
Edith Bratt: It begins with the arrival of a proud and opinionated princess.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Yes, you’re right about that.
Edith Bratt: She demands entertainment. Princess Cellardoor is bored. Bored of cakes and muffins and exquisite china…
J.R.R. Tolkien: No.
Edith Bratt: She longs for another life.
J.R.R. Tolkien: It’s not a name.
Edith Bratt: What?
J.R.R. Tolkien: It’s something else. Cellardoor. It’s not a princess’s name, it can’t be.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Cellardoor is a place. It’s a place. An ancient place. Impossible to reach, except by the most treacherous climb. It hangs, no.
Edith Bratt: No?
J.R.R. Tolkien: It’s not a climb. It’s not a climb. It’s not a… Door. Road. Path. It’s a path. A path through a dense, dark forest.
Edith Bratt: Oh, is it, now?
J.R.R. Tolkien: And at the heart of Cellardoor, which is actually a shrine, there stands an extraordinary sight.
Edith Bratt: Is it a proud and opinionated princess?
J.R.R. Tolkien: It is a place which is revered by all who know of it. A sacred place, marked at its center by…
Edith Bratt: By?
J.R.R. Tolkien: By trees.
Edith Bratt: Trees?
J.R.R. Tolkien: One is the purest black, like ebony, the other white as bone. They each contain a deadly poison in their sap. But they have grown together over thousands of years. Leaning into each other, like they were fighting, or the roots. The branches of two trees reaching, twisting, gnarling around each other, have finally become a single knotted trunk. Their poisoned saps commingled to create a powerful, life-giving potion. The water of Cellardoor.
Edith Bratt: What does it do?
J.R.R. Tolkien: What does it do?
Edith Bratt: Yes. What does it do?
J.R.R. Tolkien: To drink it.
Edith Bratt: Yes?
J.R.R. Tolkien: The water of Cellardoor, to taste it, is to possess the power of sight. Sight beyond sight. Sight into the deepest, darkest parts of the human heart. It’s a hungry, potent magic. A magic beyond anything anyone has ever felt before.
[after Father Frances has told Tolkien to stop seeing Edith in order to go to Oxford]
J.R.R. Tolkien: I can’t fail it again. And you know what will happen if I don’t get into Oxford. I could become a priest, but I don’t think a life of celibacy is what either of us had in mind.
[Edith is looking away from him]
J.R.R. Tolkien: Edith? Edith, it’s just until I reach my majority.
[Edith looks at Tolkien with tears in her eyes]
Edith Bratt: Oh, for God’s sake, Ronald. Don’t be so dramatic. It doesn’t matter.
J.R.R. Tolkien: No, don’t say that. Of course, it matters.
Edith Bratt: I don’t know why you’re taking it so hard. Things are just returning to normal, that’s all. To reality.
J.R.R. Tolkien: No, I won’t give up on our future. That’s why I’m, I refuse to give up on that.
Edith Bratt: Of course, you will. More quickly than you think. So will I.
J.R.R. Tolkien: No, that’s not true. Edith, please. Look…
Edith Bratt: I let myself believe that there were happy endings for people like us. But there aren’t. There can’t be. But you get your happy ending. I hope you enjoy Oxford.
[she opens the door and leaves]
J.R.R. Tolkien: No. Edith.
Christopher Wiseman: I apologize for my friend. He’s pining for someone.
Christopher Wiseman: He’s pining for the delectable Miss Bratt.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Take no notice of him.
Beryl: Who’s the delectable Miss Bratt?
J.R.R. Tolkien: She’s no one.
Christopher Wiseman: Oh, is she, Tollers? The way you’ve been moping around for the past couple of months.
Beryl: It’s not very nice to talk about another lady when you’re with someone.
J.R.R. Tolkien: No, you’re absolutely right. I apologize, Myrtle.
Beryl: It’s Beryl.
Christopher Wiseman: See? See? Sitting in the arms of a beautiful girl and he can’t even remember her name.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Yes, well, I’m sorry if my difficulties are getting in the way of your diversions.
Christopher Wiseman: You made a decision, Tolkien. Nobody forced you into it.
J.R.R. Tolkien: What?
Christopher Wiseman: Edith or Oxford. You chose Oxford, and here you are. Sat on a commandeered bus with three beautiful girls and your best friends. For God’s sake, enjoy yourself!
J.R.R. Tolkien: Nobody forced me!
Christopher Wiseman: Oh, yes.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Nobody forced me!
Christopher Wiseman: The priest. Your benefactor.
Geoffrey Smith: Chris, this is getting out of hand.
J.R.R. Tolkien: No, don’t talk about things you don’t understand.
Beryl: Thank you. This was wonderful.
Christopher Wiseman: You let her go. You didn’t want her more than you wanted Oxford.
J.R.R. Tolkien: No. I didn’t have a choice, Christopher.
Christopher Wiseman: Does that make you a rotter? Does that make you something else? What’s the matter with you?
J.R.R. Tolkien: Christopher, you have no idea. Just shut up!
[he punches Christopher]
[after punching Christopher]
J.R.R. Tolkien: No, that was horrible of me. I’m sorry.
Robert Gilson: What you need to understand, Tolkien, you poor lawless orphan, is that we are your brothers. Through everything.
Geoffrey Smith: Yes, absolutely.
Christopher Wiseman: Exactly.
Robert Gilson: This is more than just a friendship. It’s an alliance. An invincible alliance. Helheimr!
Tolkien, Christopher, Geoffrey: Helheimr.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Still Helheimr. Every time he gets it wrong.
[Tolkien has gotten drunk after finding out that Edith is engaged to be married]
Geoffrey Smith: Pull yourself together, John.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Would you like to come to a wedding?
Geoffrey Smith: What?
J.R.R. Tolkien: Very beautiful English summer wedding.
Geoffrey Smith: John, you’re not making any sense.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Edith.
Geoffrey Smith: Congratulations.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Yes, she wrote to me. She’s engaged. She’s getting married.
Geoffrey Smith: Oh, John, that’s awfully bad luck.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I’m sorry. I’m in a bit of a mess.
[Tolkien starts to breakdown, crying]
Geoffrey Smith: No, that’s okay. Hey, hey.
[Geoff holds Tolkien as he sobs]
J.R.R. Tolkien: Sorry, Geoff.
Geoffrey Smith: It’s okay. It’s okay. That’s okay. I’ve got you. I’ve got you.
[consoling Tolkien, who is in love with Edith]
Geoffrey Smith: To love someone, who, for whatever reason, cannot return your feelings is painful. But if you listen to the poets, perhaps there’s a kind of beauty to that love. It burns, bright, and it’s never tainted by reality or by overuse. It’s as clear and fierce today as it was the very first day it began, and there’s beauty to that, I think. At least, that’s what I cling to, anyway.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Since childhood, I have been fascinated with language. Obsessed with it. I’ve invented my own. Full, complete languages. Look. This is, it’s everything.
[he hands Wright his notebook]
J.R.R. Tolkien: From the Breost-hord. My heart. The treasure of the breast.
Professor Wright: And the drawings?
J.R.R. Tolkien: I made stories. Legends. After all, what is language for? It’s not just the naming of things, is it? It’s the lifeblood of a culture, a people.
Professor Wright: Yes. Exactly.
Professor Wright: The way you follow the rhythms of the poetry, your sensitivity to it. I have to tell you, Mr. Tolkien, I’ve never come across anything like it. Never.
J.R.R. Tolkien: There is something I have to say…
Edith Bratt: Ronald.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I made the biggest mistake of my life, and there hasn’t been a day, a moment, I’ve never stopped thinking about you. You are the most remarkable spirit I have ever met. You have courage and resourcefulness, talent. You’re proud, maddeningly, wonderfully so. And you are cunning and vibrant, and completely alive. You deserve every happiness you find.
J.R.R. Tolkien: No. No, you don’t. You don’t deserve happiness. That’s not what I… What I mean is, you deserve much more. You deserve magic.
[as Tolkien is about to go join the war he kisses Edith]
J.R.R. Tolkien: Edith. I love you.
Edith Bratt: I love you.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I love you so much.
Edith Bratt: I know.
J.R.R. Tolkien: There’s nothing I could do about it.
Edith Bratt: I know. I can’t either.
[they kiss again]
J.R.R. Tolkien: I have to go.
Edith Bratt: Stay alive.
[they kiss again]
Edith Bratt: And come back to me. Stay alive and come back to me.
[they kiss again before Tolkien leaves]
[Tolkien wakes up in hospital with Edith at his side]
Edith Bratt: Don’t try to sit up.
[she embraces him in bed]
Edith Bratt: You’ve been asleep for a very long time. You’ve had trench fever, but you’re alright. You’re home.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I tried to find him.
Edith Bratt: Who?
J.R.R. Tolkien: Geoffrey, I heard him. I could hear him.
Edith Bratt: Geoffrey is dead. He died weeks ago.
J.R.R. Tolkien: What? No.
Edith Bratt: Robert Gilson, he was hit. He’s also dead.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Robbie and Geoffrey.
Edith Bratt: I’m sorry. Ron, I’m so sorry. But you’re fine. You’re home. Everything’s going to be fine. I promise.
Father Francis: I spend my every afternoon with mothers, widows. What can I say to them? “Your sons have died in the war to end all wars.”
J.R.R. Tolkien: What do you say?
Father Francis: Words are useless. Well, modern words, anyway. I speak the liturgy. There’s a comfort, I think in distance, ancient things. Throughout the whole of your illness, Miss Bratt never left your bedside. Not once. You were right to pursue her.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Thank you.
[Tolkien reads his last letter from Geoffrey]
Geoffrey Smith: [voice over] My dear John Ronald, it is my chief consolation that if I am scuppered tonight there will still be left a great member of the TCBS to voice what I dreamed and what we all agreed upon. That the death of one of its members cannot, I am determined, dissolve the TCBS. Death can make us loathsome and helpless as individuals, but it cannot put an end to the immortal four. May God bless you, my dear John Ronald, and may you say the things I have tried to say long after I am not there to say them.
J.R.R. Tolkien: I want you to listen to a story.
John Tolkien Jnr.: What story?
Michael Tolkien: Is it a good story?
J.R.R. Tolkien: I hope so.
John Tolkien Jnr.: Is it long?
J.R.R. Tolkien: Extremely long.
Edith Bratt: Has it been started?
J.R.R. Tolkien: Yes, I think, I think, up here, yes, I think it has.
John Tolkien Jnr.: What’s it about?
J.R.R. Tolkien: It’s about journeys. Adventures. Magic, of course. Treasure. And love. It’s about all kinds of things really. It’s hard to say. I suppose it’s about quests, to a certain extent. The journeys we take to prove ourselves. About courage. Fellowship. It’s about fellowship. Friendship. Little people just like you.
Michael Tolkien: I’m not little!
J.R.R. Tolkien: No. Little in stature. Not little in spirit. It’s about wizards, too.
Michael Tolkien: Wizards?
J.R.R. Tolkien: Wizards, yes. And mountains, and dragons, and journeys…
[last lines; we see Tolkien begin writing his book]
“In a hole in the ground, there lived…”
J.R.R. Tolkien: Hobbit.
Total Quotes: 33
What do you think of Tolkien quotes? Let us know what you think in the comments below as we’d love to know.
Jason Us says
Yes. I’d love the see the quote about unrequited love as well. It’s one of the most beautiful speeches ever given in any film.
Please add the quote about the kind of love when they don’t love you back.
Also the one where Tolkien tells Edith that she deserves magic.
What’s the motto they adopt? “Hail Haima” (spelling)?
Glenn Bailey says
Helheim. It’s the place that warriors go when they die “without honor” or in a undignified manner. The opposite of Valhalla.