British fantasy literature has two towering figures: J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia. The two were longtime friends, and now their relationship will be the subject of a new movie: Tolkien & Lewis, an $18 million drama, will be produced by UK-based production outfit Attractive Films and directed by Simon West, known for The Expendables 2, Con Air, and a certain Rick Astley music video.The story of their friendship is bittersweet, and neither author would have achieved what he did without the other's influence. Tolkien described that to his daughter Priscilla, in a letter written shortly after Lewis' death*:
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 two writers had a lot in common: Both taught at Oxford, both fought in World War I, and both preferred not to spell out their names. Their relationship was friendly for years, but turned famously fraught. Through late-night conversations, Tolkien, a religious Catholic, convinced Lewis to return to the faith; Lewis’ writing took off afterward, and he’s now best known for his books that are instilled with Christian themes, like the Narnia series and The Screwtape Letters. But Lewis then became a much-criticized unofficial spokesman for Christianity, which strained his relationship with Tolkien and Oxford. And while Tolkien struggled over the Lord of the Rings manuscripts for years, Lewis’ Narnia books were bestsellers.
So far I have felt the normal feelings of a man my age - like an old tree that is losing all its leaves one by one: this feels like an axe blow near the roots. Very sad that we should have been so separated in the last years; but our time of close communion endured in memory for both of us.No offense to Lewis, but I think that the Lord Of The Rings is the greatest (meaning psychologically deepest) novel of the entire 20th century. Much of that I suspect is due to Lewis' repeated and generous encouragement to Tolkien.
Hat tip: Patriactionary, a blog with a totally awesome name (and dare I say, on that Tolkien might have liked?)
* Transcribed from The Letters Of J.R.R. Tolkien.