Tolkien Speaks on Lord of the Rings

Best of the Web Christian Fantasy Myth and Legend Writing

Recently, I stumbled across several videos of Tolkien dating from the late 1960s, in which he discusses various topics of interest regarding Lord of the Rings and his other works. Since I like hearing what writers have to say about their own works, I found these intriguing.

The first video clip begins with scholars discussing different aspects of Lord of the Rings (including one who denounces it as a reprehensible escape from reality), but if you want to hear Tolkien himself, skip to around the four minute mark. Some highlights include him talking and writing in Elvish, discussing allegory versus application, and the statement “it is impossible to give any story that is worthwhile in a couple of sentences.” Oh, that writers today could have that luxury!

The second film also opens with others’ opinions about Tolkien’s works. This one focuses more on various video footage of Tolkien walking about (at Oxford, I think), watching fireworks, and doing other activities. However, he still discusses some matters of interest, including how the first sentence of The Hobbit was birthed while he was in the midst of the tedious process of marking student papers.

The third film clip is actually still pictures and audio taken from a 1971 interview. In it, Tolkien shares aspects of his creative process that many writers will identify with–including how he wept when he reached the denouement of Lord of the Rings and how arduous the revision process for the books were  (done on a typewriter, no less). While he admits the series was not an allegory (interestingly, in the first film he discussed people trying to make it a political allegory, not spiritual), he states that God is mentioned in Lord of the Rings.

Do you find anything in these of interest?


    • Sarah Sawyer
      February 16, 2011 - 9:48 am · Reply

      I’m so glad you asked about the links, Jenni! I scheduled this post ahead of time, with the videos embedded, and for some reason they disappeared when the post went live. Oh, the quirks of technology. 🙂

      But I’ve fixed it now, so all the referenced clips are included. Enjoy watching!

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