Montclair Film Festival goes national with broadcast of ‘Tolkien’ event

tolkien montclair

Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins co-star in “Tolkien.”

In a first for the Montclair Film Festival, one of its events had a simulcast that was seen in more than 400 theaters, nationally: Stephen Colbert’s interview with “Tolkien” co-stars Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins and director Dome Karukoski after a screening of the film at the Wellmont Theater, May 7,

“Tolkien” is about the youth and early adulthood of British writer J.R.R. Tolkien, whose fantasy novels “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” have been made into immensely popular films. Hoult plays Tolkien as a young student and soldier, and Collins plays Edith Bratt, his future wife. A preview of the movie (“Tolkien” opens nationally May 10) with the interview as a major bonus was offered to other theaters by FathomEvents.com.

Colbert, who has often talked about his love of Tolkien’s writing on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” began the interview by reciting some of Tolkien’s lines:

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

“Like Tolkien, I consider myself something of a hobbit,” said Colbert, who then identified the passage as Bilbo Baggins’ walking song, and said the line “whither then? I cannot say” rings true “because I get to do some amazing things in my job, and this is one of them.”

Later, he said that Tolkien’s writings “saved my life” and that, at one point in his life, he dove so deeply into the world Tolkien created that he felt he needed a snorkel to connect him to the real world.

“To this day,” he said, “when I cannot take another moment of the nonsense of our present world, I will return” to Tolkien.

“It’s your happy place,” said Collins.

“It’s my beautiful place,” clarified Colbert, saying that not everything in Tolkien’s novels is happy, but it all adds up to something beautiful.

Other topics covered in the interview with Hoult, Collins and Karukoski included the correct pronunciation of “Tolkien” (tol-keen, not tol-kin, as the movie makes clear), their admiration for his work, and the research they did to prepare for the movie.

The film itself is a finely crafted period drama that, I think, will be of most interest to hardcore Tolkien fans, who will recognize the way his writing was inspired by elements of his life as a young man: how, for instance, his close-knit friendship with a group of classmates became the “fellowship” of the “Lord of the Rings” saga, and how Edith inspired some of his most important female characters.

The Montclair Film Festival is now in its eighth year. Colbert, a Montclair resident, is on its advisory board, and his wife, Evelyn Colbert, is president of its board of trustees.

The festival continues through May 12. For information, visit montclairfilm.org.

Here is a trailer for the film:

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