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Cinema Junkie Podcast 168: All Things Tolkien

The new film "Tolkien" looks to the life of the man who penned "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" books. Check out my review of the film and interview with its director Dome Karukoski.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 J R r Tolkien famously wrote the Hobbit and the Lord of rings books that inspired Peter Jackson's recent films now of film biography about the author hits theaters in the new episode of the KPBS podcast, cinema junky host Beth og, Mondo speaks with the film's director Domain Chorico ski about making connections between the man and his books.

Speaker 2: 00:24 What do you remember as your first introduction to toll keen,

Speaker 3: 00:32 miserable kid being bullied? Uh, I was at that time growing up without a father who I got to know in the later teens and then I think it was the teacher who gave me the Lord of rings to read. And I remember that, you know, ready read the trilogy. I remember I cried then when Sam is back home. And because partly because for me at that time was an escape. And then I cried not just because the beautiful story, but because the adventure kind of escape ended. So that actually affected me very highly. It was very instrumental probably as a storyteller because then I started making my own fantasy stories. I've got it playing dungeons, dragons, board games, and creating my own stories in that. So I remember that emotion very well.

Speaker 2: 01:19 And at what point did you become aware of the author's story? Like he, his own story and became interested in him?

Speaker 3: 01:27 I think most of us know kind of the CS Lewis and the increased air, the Oxford area. And that was also my picture of him, you know, in a certain way. I was, I was a very poor kid also. So you didn't have running water. So you, you look at him, the privilege almost elitist character in Oxford. And then when you realize this story that, you know, he came out of poverty, he was orphaned, you know, he had to really struggle and fight to be who he was. In a way. There's a certain, I appreciate appreciation against him even more. You kind of admire it. And even more after hearing of this specific era that we're depicting the film.

Speaker 2: 02:05 And when did you become involved in this project and in, what was it that attracted you to trying to tell his story?

Speaker 3: 02:12 Uh, I have good folks just a couple of years ago, everything was 2014 and they had seen some of my older films and kind of liked the voice that I have as a director and express that they would be very keen on working with me on something. And I was sent the script and of course this script is several drafts ago and what struck me most is the sense of destiny. So this time that it's based on his life, he's actually an outsider. He becomes orphaned, is the need to find friends and is so vital. And even in a manual level that I felt somehow destined that I did. That was, those were the emotions that I had when I was learning about these stories. And so it felt like, okay, there's something here, there's something, definitely hear that I want make the story. And we started developing, rewriting, reshaping and several, several script draft that's ready later and shooting. Here we are.

Speaker 2: 03:08 And what kind of research did you do into his life to try and find out what his childhood was like and what kind of things influenced his writing?

Speaker 3: 03:17 Well, the difficulty of course is that there's not that much documentation of this era that we're depicting. So how would you sweet everything? I would listen to all the interviews. I would meet so many talking experts that uh, I could, and it was tricky is that one expert will be saying one thing and the other experts expert will be saying the other thing and everybody will have an opinion what should be involved in the film. And when you're doing an iconic character like talking, that's your biggest challenge as a filmmaker. So what happens to your biggest research is just listening, listening, listening, and then kind of finding through those voices your own infiltration of the cat and, and what you want to tell, what is the main emotion you want to tell about them, their growth. And, and if you look at this era of why, you know, after reading about in, the more I read about the mortar researched, it felt it's so instrumental in his mythologies. No, not necessarily as direct inspiration, but more like it really shaped him as an artist to create these stories.

Speaker 2: 04:16 And in making this film, what did you feel was the most important thing that you wanted to convey about him?

Speaker 3: 04:22 I think there were two things. One is that what was very important for me from what I read the first draft and then you know kind of developing new Wesley, how do we delve into the mind of a genius regardless of your talking fan or regardless about that you want to see by talking movie you want to see how he's mindful or she said that was something I took very much care of. And the second thing is also the beautiful story of friendship and fellowship that the film have, you know, and the inspiration that you're the [inaudible], how they, how they embrace life. The beauty of life. That was very important that to bear, have some people walk, walk into the cinema even though accidentally walking in, not knowing anything about talking, they can walk out feelings by feeling love and feeling this like excitement and then you know, perhaps call a friend and go have a cup of tea with them and told us to tell stories.

Speaker 2: 05:15 You mentioned doing research and looking for things about him. One thing told keen is famous for having said is that you know you shouldn't, that the book is just the book. It's, it's nothing more. It's not about war, it's not about politics. How do you kind of take what an artist says about themselves? Can we always believe like what the artist says or do you think you have to kind of dig below what they're presenting their work as? Well,

Speaker 3: 05:46 I think he said that that specific line he said in regards of the Nazis and then at that time, you know, so many people were trying to find, you know, allegories in the world war. Of course I do, but he also said there were several things that inspiring directly one on one, like when Edith office and in the forest that inspired him to write the better nucleon than they are. There are different elements that he admitted that were inspirations that I do agree with him. That is not a direct analogy. Arbeit launderings a very capitalistic work. You know, it's, it's very religious and Todd and core. But again, it's not directly coming out of, you know, the Bible. Uh, it's more of like who we are as artists. We use the emotions, the feelings that we have post. He would mention the war. It's not more done. And I agree that it's not one on one or more as an inspiration to is more, more door, but in a way, it's an emotional journey into Mordor and emotional experience. Him as an innocent, so innocent men going to war and then confronting this turmoil and that we wanted to show that those emotions that you felt and experienced, and I'm pretty sure he used those emotions and writing his art

Speaker 1: 07:01 that was still may, director of the new film biography of Tolkien speaking with Beth, a commando host of the KPBS podcasts that I'm a junkie. You can listen to the entire episode@kpbs.org or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.