Tolkien’s Road is an imaginative look at JRR Tolkien’s life around the time when he began to think about The Hobbit. He is haunted by experiences from World War I, especially the loss of one of his closest friends, Geoffrey B. Smith. He seems to have lost his muse under the pressure of, as the movie puts it, what he “must say,” rather than concentrating on what he “wants to say.” Throughout the film, he interacts with ghosts of the past and characters from his imagination, to the point his friend CS “Jack” Lewis is concerned he is losing touch with reality.
In a conversation with Jack, loosely resembling the famous talk he had with Hugo Dyson and Lewis, Tolkien explains how imagination is not untrue. In fact, everything in the world has been given a name by human imagination. The conversation in the movie does not go into the “nature of myth,” and will probably be rather confusing to those who are not familiar with the subject as it had been discussed by the three friends. Those who are familiar with the life of Tolkien will, however, find much to enjoy, as long as they are not expecting an accurate portrayal of Tolkien’s life.
Which may just be a good thing. As Tolkien knew, and Lewis would come to know, we often come to appreciate reality more through the use of the imagination. Myth and fantasy often tell us more about reality than books written in a “realistic” style. The same often goes with movies. I will leave it to the viewer to decide how well Tolkien’s Road helps us understand Tolkien—or if that’s even important in finding the importance of the film.
Tolkien’s Road became available free online today. You can view it embedded below, or at this link: Tolkien’s Road on YouTube.
You can also read more about the film in my interview with Director Nye Green here: Speculative Short Film about JRR Tolkien Online This Sunday.