J.R.R. Tolkien fans will be treated to not one, but two, biopics based on his life next year. London and Brisbane-based Attractive Films have announced Tolkien & Lewis, penned by Australian scriptwriter Jacqueline Cook, with English director Simon West at the helm. West is known for The Expendables 2, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Con Air, which quite frankly makes me nervous.
Last November Fox Searchlight announced their biopic Tolkien penned by Irish writer David Gleeson,who calls himself a “Tolkien superfan and scholar of sorts”. Attractive Films is aiming to beat Tolkien to the theatres with Tolkien & Lewis, with an Easter release planned.
Attractive describes the movie as “a drama fantasy set in war torn Britain in 1941 revealing the faith, friendship, and rivalry between J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.” The story centers on Tolkien’s relationship with author C.S. Lewis, whom Tolkien, a devout Catholic, converted to Christianity. Much of the movie takes place at the beginning of World War II, when Tolkien, a veteran of World War I, is haunted by memories of his fallen friends. Meanwhile, Lewis’ growing fame strains his relationship with Tolkien and his university job.
“Lewis becoming the poster boy for Christianity upset Tolkien,” says Attractive principal Wernher Pramschufer. “And obsessive genius Tolkien is blocked, terrified of finishing The Fellowship of the Ring, for fear of the strange, psychotic visions which torture him.”
I have some reservations about this (and that terrible movie poster), and suspect they’re not going to get into the more complex reasons behind Tolkien and Lewis falling out, but we will have to wait and see. Gleeson’s biopic is still sounding more promising.
Meanwhile the media is, as usual, eager to present the Tolkien Estate as party-poopers and continue to speculate they will try to block filming. Many are again referring to the movie adaptation of Mirkwood: A Novel About J.R.R Tolkien stalling after a legal dispute back in 2011. But the objection from the Tolkien Estate was on the novel itself, and was settled after author Steve Hillard added a disclaimer that the novel was fictional and not affiliated with the estate. And rightly so. Considering the plot summary “Professor Tolkien makes a little-known visit to America-and sets in motion elvish powers embodied in a cache of archaic documents” the movie adaptation probably fell through because of the content.