'Tolkien' Trailer, Release Date, Historical Accuracy, and More to Know

The man behind the world's greatest fantasy epic finally gets a biopic.

British author J. R. R. Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937, and in the decades that followed, his subsequent novels set within the fantastical world of Middle-earth went on to inspire just about every piece of fantasy literature since. But what inspired John Ronald Reuel Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings in the first place?

A new film from New Line Cinema, simply titled Tolkien, is a biopic all about the famed fantasy author, detailing his earlier years. According to TheOneRing.net, “The story focuses on the friendships, experiences, and romance that influenced Tolkien in his early years.”

Tolkien is directed by Dome Karukoski and written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford. Casual moviegoers probably won’t recognize any of these names, mainly because they haven’t directed or written anything of note — yet based on early footage, it captures the perfect tone for this type of . Nicholas Hoult stars as J. R. R. Tolkien, who spent most of his 20s fighting in World War I, long before he wrote The Hobbit. Lily Collins co-stars as Edith Bratt, Tolkien’s lifelong love.

Here’s everything else to know about Tolkien:

Nicholas Hoult as J. R. R. Tolkien in 'Tolkien'.
Nicholas Hoult as J. R. R. Tolkien in 'Tolkien'.

What Is the Tolkien Release Date?

Tolkien will be released in theaters on May 10, 2019.

Is There a Tolkien Trailer?

Yes. TheOneRing.net revealed the first trailer for Tolkien on February 12, and it feels much more like a teaser than a legitimate trailer.

“Tell me a story,” Lily Collins’ Edith Bratt says.

“It’s a story about journeys, the journeys we take to prove ourselves,” Nicholas Hoult says as J. R. R. Tolkien in voiceover. “It’s about adventures. It’s about potent magic — magic beyond anything anyone has ever felt before, about what it means to love and be loved, about courage. It’s about fellowship.”

While we hear this, the trailer offers snapshots of Tolkien as a boy fascinated by a spinning lamp (just like P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman, for whatever that’s worth). In his school years, Tolkien walks or drinks with friends. There are also slightly more fantastical scenes with ornate costumes and romantic afternoons in the woods.

Interspersed are shots of a very real war: World War I.

The second trailer for 'Tolkien' offers a more coherent look at the plot.

A second trailer was released on March 6, and it offers a more coherent look at the film’s narrative with similar pieces of dialogue and scenes from the first. But there’s even more.

The second trailer showcases Tolkien’s real-life obsession with language. It was in his youth that Tolkien began developing the Elvish languages featured in Middle-earth, and the stories and legends that came after grew organically out of those initial efforts at world-building.

Tolkien follows the author through his youth into adulthood, but it seems like the bulk of this movie takes place before, during, and slightly after World War I when he was an adult.

'Tolkien'
Tolkien with his pals at school.

How Historically Accurate Is Tolkien?

From the looks of it, Tolkien will chronicle the lengthy stretch of Tolkien’s early years with a decent amount of accuracy — his experiences at Oxford as a young student and later, a professor, along with his courtship of Edith Bratt on the cusp of World War I. The historically accurate version of Tolkien’s life has enough drama that it would make for a decent film, but there’s little doubt that Tolkien might embellish some aspects and neglect others.

If the trailers are any indication, however, then the entire film might be infused with elements of surrealism and familiar symbols meant to resonate with fans of The Lord of the Rings. Scenes from WWI looks traumatic, but they’re also filmed similarly to the Lord of the Rings movies with some kind of fire dragon and a dark lord clashing with a white knight. There’s a face in the flames of an explosion, and at one point, a young Tolkien hides behind a stone wall like Frodo and his hobbit friends hiding from a Wringwraith in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Are scenes like that embellishment as fan service? Or are those very specific real-life events what inspired the scenes? The lines between art imitating life and vice versa will never seem more blurred than in Tolkien.

Tolkien will probably offer an interpretation of the author’s experiences, working under the assumption that Tolkien himself saw the trials of war through a certain kind of lens. That, in turn, inspired his stories of Middle-earth.

There’s also the fact that the IMDb listing credits Kevin Zen as Gandalf, the grey-turned-white wizard from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and more.

So we can safely assume that Tolkien won’t go the hyper-realistic route if there’s a legit wizard in there.

Is C.S. Lewis in Tolkien?

Most Tolkien fans are well aware of his famed friendship with fellow fantasy author C.S. Lewis. Yes, that means that the guy who invented Narnia was friends with the guy who dreamt up Middle-earth. They met as young professors in 1926 and formed a fast friendship that lasted decades.

So for anyone wondering if Lewis might be cast in Tolkien, we have sad news: The film will likely cover up through Tolkien’s time in service, which ended in 1920. That’s more than half a decade before their meeting. If anything, Lewis could appear at the very end when the two meet, if the filmmakers want to end Tolkien on something as mundane as an Oxford faculty meeting.

One can only hope!

Tolkien will be released May 10, 2019.