“A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War,” explores how the experience of both world wars shaped the lives and literary imagination of two internationally famous authors and friends, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
The First World War laid waste to a continent and permanently altered the political and religious landscape of the West. For a generation of men and women, it brought the end of innocence and the end of faith.
Yet for J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, the Great War deepened their spiritual quest. Both men served as soldiers on the Western Front, survived the trenches, and used the experience of that conflict to ignite their Christian imagination.
Had there been no Great War, there would have been no “Hobbit,” no “Lord of the Rings,” no “Narnia,” and perhaps no conversion to Christianity by C. S. Lewis.
Based on Joseph Loconte’s New York Times bestseller, the film series currently in production examines how Tolkien’s combat experience during the First World War, at the Battle of the Somme, launched him on his literary quest.
Unlike a generation of young writers who lost faith in the God of the Bible, Tolkien and Lewis produced epic stories infused with the themes of guilt and grace, sorrow and consolation.
Giving an unabashedly Christian vision of hope in a world tortured by doubt and disillusionment, the two writers created works that changed the course of literature and shaped the faith of millions. This is the first book to explore their work in light of the spiritual crisis sparked by the conflict.
The documentary reveals how the conflict reinforced Lewis’s youthful atheism, as a result of his combat injury, but also stirred his spiritual longings.
The film’s narrative traces the careers of both men at Oxford University, and their deepening friendship as they discover a mutual love of medieval, romantic literature. Facing the threat of another world war, Tolkien and Lewis reach back into their earlier experience of war as they compose their epic works of fantasy, The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.
Ralph Winter serves as the film’s executive producer, Jock Petersen and Ralph Linhardt will direct and produce, with Joseph Loconte as the screenwriter and on camera narrator. The film is scheduled to be released in November 2018.
In Milwaukee, many of the original manuscripts from Tolkien’s work are held in an extensive collection at Marquette University. William B. Ready, director of libraries from 1956 to 1963, recognized “The Lord of the Rings” as a masterpiece soon after its publication in 1954-55, before Tolkien and his work gained enormous popularity.
Milwaukee native Chip Duncan, an internationally acclaimed filmmaker and author, premiered his documentary at the Milwaukee Film Festival in 2016 about the two legendary authors. “Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination and the Quest For Meaning” highlighted a rainy evening in 1931 at Oxford University’s Magdalen College.
On that night, C.S. Lewis invited fellow scholar J.R.R. Tolkien, and Hugo Dyson to dinner. The conversation that followed over the subsequent hours remains the stuff of legend, but it focused on myth, ritual, faith, and the imaginative process.