Tolkien (2019) - full transcript

The formative years of the orphaned author J.R.R. Tolkien as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school.

(HORSE NEIGHS)

(HORSE NEIGHING)

(DISTANT GUNFIRE)

(EXHALES DEEPLY)

(SNIFFLES)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

Sir? Where are you going?

Up the line to find a friend.

If I'm not back, you know
where to send my things.

- Well, wait...
- (EXPLOSIONS)

Sir, wait!



- Tolkien, sir!
- (EXPLOSIONS CONTINUE)

Sir, please don't do this.
You need to rest.

No, I'm fine.

Go back to barracks
and wait for me there.

Sir, you really need
to lay down.

The doctor said that the fever
might get worse.

- I really don't think...
- Look, Hodges, stay here.

- That's an order.
- (MISSILE WHIZZES)

SAM: Cover your face, sir!
Keep down!

(EXPLOSIONS CONTINUE)

That water was cold.

You need to
keep yourself warm, sir.

It's a long journey
to the front.

(DISTANT EXPLOSIONS)



(SNIFFLES)

I don't think the night
will treat us well, sir.

(TOLKIEN BREATHING RAGGEDLY)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(BOYS YELLING)

BOY 1: Fight, men!

BOY 2:
There's too many of them!

BOY 1:
We need reinforcements!

- BOY 3: Take the banner!
- (YELLS)

YOUNG TOLKIEN:
Yes, I have the banner!

BOY 1: Stop them!
He's getting away!

BOY 4: Where's Tolkien?

- Where is he?
- BOY 3: Tolkien!

FATHER FRANCIS: Ah!

I prayed
for a strong pack mule

to help carry boxes, and look,

my prayers have been answered.

Where are we going?

Birmingham. I need you to go
to your room and pack.

- What? Why?
- Because I said so.

Because Father Francis
has found us some rooms.

He's been very generous.

Find a box
and collect your things.

I don't want to go
to Birmingham.

Listen, both of you.

We...

Come here, Hilary.

(SIGHS) Boys, we are going
to face some difficult times,

and we are fortunate to have
the church to support us.

With your father gone...

Ronald.

(PANTING)

MABEL: Ronald!

(PANTING)

"Ubi bene ibi patria."
Remember that, my darling?

Wherever you feel happy,

that's your home.

MABEL: We will find our place,
sweetheart, we will.

Lock all this
all in your heart.

Lock it tight, and it will be
there forever, I promise.

MABEL: Boys, listen to me.

Do you know what impecunious
circumstances are?

YOUNG TOLKIEN:
They're what we're in?

MABEL:
When I was a little girl,

all the new novels
began like this.

A family of good
and brave people

who suddenly find themselves
in impecunious circumstances.

How did they escape?

By coming across
some marvelous treasure.

Or else by marrying well.

I'm not marrying anyone.

Well, it will have to be
the treasure then, won't it?

But, um, people don't
find treasure, Mother.

Not in real life.

There's no fooling you,
is there, John Ronald?

Let's just say
there's treasure...

and there's treasure.

And leave it at that.

Let us begin, Ronald.

The earth began to shake
with the weight of the dragon

as he crawled to the water,

and a cloud of venom
flew before him

as he snorted and roared!

But Sigurd waited

till the dragon had
crawled over the pit

and then he thrust his sword
under his left shoulder

and right into his heart.

The dragon lashed his tail
till stones broke

and trees crashed about him.

And then he spoke, as he died,

and said, "Whoever thou art

that hast slain me,

this gold shall be thy ruin

and the ruin of all who own it."

Sigurd said,

"I would touch none of it,

if even by losing it,
I should never die.

But all men die

and no brave man lets death
frighten him from his desire."

(YOUNG TOLKIEN SPEAKS
UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

YOUNG HILARY: (IN ENGLISH)
Do you know

how ridiculous you sound?

YOUNG TOLKIEN: Oh, really?

I'm even funnier in Latin.

(YOUNG TOLKIEN SPEAKS LATIN)

(IN ENGLISH)
Do you know what that means?

An insignificant wart.

YOUNG HILARY: No.

I believe you now sound
like a drunken peacock,

you duffer.

Hello, Mother.
Did you get my stamps?

Hello, Mother.

YOUNG HILARY:
Where did you put them?

(BREATHES SHAKILY)

(SOBBING QUIETLY)

Sir?

I'm going to
have to keep going.

SAM: Sir, gas.

(DISTANT EXPLOSIONS)

(TOLKIEN BREATHING HEAVILY)

(DEEP GROWLING)

- (GAS HISSING)
- (CONTINUES BREATHING HEAVILY)

(HORSE WHINNIES)

(HOOVES CLOPPING)

MRS. FAULKNER: (MUFFLED)
I'm intrigued to see the boys.

(DOOR OPENS)

(DOOR CLOSES)

(EXHALES SHARPLY)

FATHER FRANCIS:
Well, boys, I was right.

She's an enormous beast,

with great scaly feet

and the most prominent
pair of tusks I've ever seen.

She's chewing,
on what I can only assume

is the femur of a small boy.

(SIGHS DEEPLY)

On the other hand,
there is cake.

King Edward's?

That's a very good school.

Well, they're very
bright boys, Mrs. Faulkner.

Very diligent.

After Africa, their mother
home-schooled them,

and they are now fluent
in many languages.

Yes, but I mean socially.

You boys will be mixing

with the cream of
Birmingham's bonnes familles.

And quite a change from
Africa, I shouldn't wonder.

They've been living in England

far longer than they ever were
in Bloemfontein.

Isn't that right, boys?

Yes, we hardly ever carry
our spears anymore.

Been difficult to place,
have they?

They've had one or two
temporary homes.

What they need, of course,
is the civilizing influence

of a stable
and refined environment.

Such as yours, Mrs. Faulkner.

If I have a fault,
it's that I am...

too generous
with my young lodgers.

Too attached.

Edith, another orphan,

is like a child of my own.

(FAINT CREAKING)

(WIND HOWLING)

(CREAKING CONTINUES)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

- (ORGAN PLAYING)
- (BOYS SINGING HYMN)

Stand up, the new man.

Tol-Kine.

It's Keen, sir.

What?

It's pronounced Tolkeen, sir.
Not Tol-Kine.

Sorry.

Sit down.

As we are so sensitive

about pronunciation
this morning,

perhaps you could
all be so good

as to take out our Chaucers.

Mr. Tol-Keen can keep up
as best he can.

Mackintosh. Begin.

(READS THE CANTERBURY TALES
IN MIDDLE ENGLISH)

(MR. HEAP SPEAKS WORDS
IN MIDDLE ENGLISH)

(MACKINTOSH REPEATS WORDS)

MR. HEAP: Oh, for heaven's
sake. Goodson-Thomas.

(GOODSON-THOMAS READS
IN MIDDLE ENGLISH)

MR. HEAP: Wiseman.

(CONTINUES IN MIDDLE ENGLISH)

MR. HEAP: Mr. Tol-Keen.

(RECITING IN MIDDLE ENGLISH)

(PLAYERS CLAMORING)

(OVERLAPPING CHATTER)

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

(CLAMORING)

BOY: Pass to Tolkien.
Out wide!

(YOUNG ROBERT GRUNTS)

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

YOUNG ROBERT: Moron!

(ALL CLAMORING)

Don't speak.

Don't say a single word.

What if he asks me a question?

He won't.

He's not interested in you.

(KNOCKS ON DOOR)

- HEADMASTER: Come.
- (DOOR OPENS)

Is it that you believe
I have nothing better to do

than arbitrate
in your quarrels?

No, sir. Absolutely not.

Collegiate relationships

are the cornerstone of learning.

Isn't that what we say
at King Edward's?

Headmaster, with respect,

Gilson and I
were just playing rugby.

A little forcefully,
I admit, but...

Men should be comrades.

Wherever they come from.

From the highest,

to the lowest.

- You and Master...
- Tolkien.

...will demonstrate this
to the rest of the school.

You will do
everything together

for the rest of the term.

- But, sir...
- Everything.

Yes, sir.

YOUNG ROBERT:
He's made us liegemen.

YOUNG TOLKIEN:
Isn't that a little excessive?

YOUNG ROBERT:
It's an impossible standard.

It's designed to humiliate me.

- Doesn't it also humiliate me?
- You're irrelevant.

Why do you
keep on saying that?

- Because it's true.
- No, listen.

I may not come from
a respectable background...

It's not that, you idiot.

You're irrelevant
to the headmaster.

- And you're not?
- No.

Oh, because you're special.

Because I'm his son.

(MUFFLED PIANO PLAYING
SOFT CLASSICAL MUSIC)

(PIANO MUSIC CONTINUES)

- (FLOORBOARD CREAKS)
- (MUSIC STOPS)

MRS. FAULKNER:
Oh, please don't stop, Edith.

(RESUMES PLAYING)

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

YOUNG ROBERT:
Christopher, darling.

YOUNG CHRISTOPHER: Gilson.

(WHISPERING)
Christopher, sit still.

- Gilson, don't be absurd.
- Christopher. Sit down.

- Stop!
- Chris, sit down.

We're in a library.
Christopher, sit down.

YOUNG CHRISTOPHER:
What?

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

We're going to take some tea.

- So?
- So...

I suppose as we're meant to be
doing everything together...

I'll stay where I am,
thank you.

Suit yourself.

(SIGHS)

He didn't want to come.

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

YOUNG GEOFFREY:
What Robert meant to say

is that,

with a little encouragement
from his friends,

he has now acknowledged

that this punishment
was his fault

rather than yours,

and he'd like to make amends,
by inviting you to tea.

You should be flattered,
really.

It was your cleverness
that rattled him.

It would rattle you too

if only you had
a father like Gilson.

His marks
only have to drop below

one other boy in the year...

It's no excuse, but...

Oh, come on.

It's a lot more fun
than sitting around

with a load of old books.

I like books.

So do we.

Geoffrey Bache Smith.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.

YOUNG ROBERT:
Gentlemen. A thought.

Tolkien.

YOUNG ROBERT: Imagine walking
into Barrow's Stores,

and finding me, guarding the
door with a very big stick...

Where is this going?

And I said, there's no need
to eat the cakes here.

I've done it.

In fact, I did it so much
it made me sick...

That is the nature
of parental authority.

"I've done it.
I've decided it was bad.

And now I'm going to stop you
from doing it."

- Cakes in this case being...
- Everything.

- Everything that's good.
- YOUNG CHRISTOPHER: Right.

YOUNG GEOFFREY:
Tolkien, this is Barrow's.

YOUNG CHRISTOPHER:
Our kingdom,

and the best tea in town.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

- WAITRESS: Another pot of tea?
- YOUNG CHRISTOPHER: Thank you.

And what do you have
that's under a shilling?

And isn't toast.

- Bath buns are four pence.
- Good. A bath bun, please.

- And three forks.
- YOUNG GEOFFREY: Four.

YOUNG ROBERT:
And what about the stick?

YOUNG CHRISTOPHER: The stick?

My father
is a perfect example.

He knows about music.
He loves it.

He spent the greater part
of his youth

studying and composing music.

Christopher has had several
musical pieces published.

YOUNG CHRISTOPHER:
Not several. One.

Pass me the sugar.

And yet when it comes to

pursuing a life
as a composer...

No. "Musical dreams
are a fantasy.

You will do as I did.
You will put them aside."

And where does
the stick come in?

The stick was a metaphor.
Move on from the stick.

YOUNG GEOFFREY:
My mother's exactly the same.

She values poetry.
She loves it.

She refuses to see it
as a potential career.

She sees me as...

a lawyer or an accountant.

Does she carry a stick?

I'm gonna go outside and fetch
a stick, how about that?

Thank you.

Well, at least
your parents discuss it.

If I even mentioned becoming
a painter, I'd be disowned.

- No. I'd be decapitated.
- There!

That's the stick.

I didn't even eat the cake
that they ordered.

Why not?

I wasn't sure
I had enough money.

YOUNG EDITH: Oh.

But this is sweet.

What about you?

(CHUCKLES) What about me?

There must be something
that you want?

To get out of here.

To be free.

I would go somewhere

where I wouldn't
feel like a poor orphan

and... everybody
would be dressed

like kings and queens.

I wouldn't be there
to play piano.

Or to carry
Mrs. Faulkner's purse.

I'd be... greeted and...

appreciated.

Welcomed.

(CHUCKLES) Welcomed.

(GUNFIRE IN DISTANCE)

(COUGHING)

Go back to barracks, Hodges.

(PANTING)

Lieutenant Geoffrey Smith
is a friend.

His mother...

His mother wrote to me. She...

She hasn't heard
from him in weeks.

And he's not responded
to my letters.

I'm worried he might be...

I need to know he's all right.

It really has
nothing to do with you.

He must be a very good friend,
is he, sir?

He's the best.

He'd do the same for me.

(GUNFIRE CONTINUES)

Well, if we're halfway there,

turning back
won't take any longer

than carrying on, will it?

Hodges, please.

Perfectly frank, sir,
by the look on you,

if I don't come along,

you're not gonna find

this Lieutenant
Geoffrey Smith, anyway.

Let me see if I can find
some medicine for you, sir.

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

YOUNG CHRISTOPHER:
Geoffrey, are you trying

to trap my bishop,
you scoundrel?

Gentlemen. A thought.

You know what the trouble is

with all these legends
Tolkien reads?

Enlighten me, Robbie.

They don't have
any women in them.

I'm not talking about pale,

shivering maidens
sitting in towers.

I'm talking about
plump, red-blooded women.

- Could you sit down, please?
- The women of Southern Europe.

Women with large flagons
of wine on their heads.

Robbie, are you incapable
of sitting in silence?

Like our waitress,
just over there.

YOUNG CHRISTOPHER:
Oh, for God's sake.

Robbie, if I lose this game

because of
your endless prattle...

You will lose this game
because of me.

What are you reading now?

I'm reading about
the realm of the dead.

- (GROANS)
- Or at least trying to.

See what I mean?

Presided over by
a giant woman, as it happens.

Hel, a huge
and ruthless goddess.

Is that not red-blooded enough
for you?

It is our waitress.

Hel?

Yes, she rules over the realm
of the dead. Helheimr.

It's a place
where warriors are sent

if they die in the wrong way.

- What's the wrong way?
- Peacefully.

Illness, old age.

Anything other than battle.

Now, that's an idea
I can get behind.

I'm sorry, you're getting
behind dying in battle now?

Not literally.

I can die in any way
the Fates choose,

that's not up to me.

But what is within my power
is to decide how I live.

Courageously or timidly.
(CLAPS HANDS)

Helheimr! It should be
our warning. Our challenge.

Yes, I know.

But you should learn
how to pronounce it first.

Come on. Challenge me.
Set me a quest.

I'll show you
how to avoid Helheimr.

I challenge you to...

sit in silence for 25 minutes.

Shut up, Geoffrey.

I'm serious.

Propose to the waitress.

- YOUNG GEOFFREY: Christopher.
- (SCOFFS) What?

An excellent idea.

Robbie, don't you dare
do anything of the kind.

That's what I call
a quest against Helheimr.

Helheimr!

Madam. My lady of the lake,
the bearer of my dreams.

Would you do me
the greatest honor,

sharing an infinite future
with me...

(BOYS LAUGHING)

We should form a club.

- What?
- A brotherhood.

Aren't we already a club?
A tea drinking club?

A tea drinking club,

sounds like something
my stepmother would go to.

The Tea Club.

It doesn't sound any better
just because you repeated it.

The Birmingham Boys.

That sounds like a circus act.

The Boys of Barrow's Stores.

Barrovians.

The Tea Club
and Barrovian Society.

I think that's far too long.

The T. C. B. S.

The T. C. B. S.

Are you sure that doesn't
sound like a disease?

No, listen, I don't care
what it's called.

As long as we pledge
our loyalty to each other.

Exactly.

T. C. B. S. That's settled.
Now what do we do?

We change the world.

Oh, good. Something simple.

Through art, you clown.

Through the power of art.

Brothers,

will you join your comrades

in this act
of changing the world?

- We will.
- We will.

Helheimr!

- YOUNG CHRISTOPHER: Helheimr!
- YOUNG GEOFFREY: Helheimr!

YOUNG ROBERT: Helheimr!

YOUNG TOLKIEN:
"Not for us, I reckon,

to follow the wolves,

to fight amongst each other

like the cubs
the Fates rear ravenous..."

TOLKIEN: "...the Norns came,

to shape out fate
for that kingling;

they said he'd be the fighter
most famed,

and be reckoned
the best of princelings.

They twisted fast
the strands of fate,

unsettled the strongholds
in Brálund..."

(KNOCKS ON DOOR)

This way, please.

- (SOFT STRING MUSIC PLAYING)
- (WOMAN SINGING ARIA)

Pale hands I loved
beside the Shalimar

Where are you now?

Who lies beneath your spell?

Whom do you lead on...

I don't have a hat.

- What?
- I don't have a hat.

That's all right.

They all look ridiculous,
anyway.

(TOLKIEN SPEAKING
UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

What does it mean?

Oh... It's nonsense.

It's about an old man
who's watching an unlucky frog

who can't land softly,
so he gets eaten by a dog.

(LAUGHS)

- And you invented that?
- Yes.

The entire language?

Verb structures,
vocabulary, everything.

My next language
will have a music to it.

"Cellar door."

Cellar door?

That's the most musical word
I can think of.

"Cellar door."

There's something
about the fall of it.

The rounding of the mouth.

Cellar door.

If you say it over and over,

it starts to be
something... magical.

(DRAMATICALLY) Cellar door.

(TONED DOWN) Cellar door.

I think that's nonsense.

I mean, it is
if you say it like that.

A word isn't beautiful
just because of its sound.

Cellar door.

It's the marriage
of sound and meaning,

the door to the cellar,

a place where
something magical

and mysterious might happen.

I'm sorry,
have you just dismissed

the basis
of my entire language?

Your language
isn't worth anything

unless you remember
this important fact.

- Oh, is that right?
- It is, yes.

Listen.

Hand.

That might be
a beautiful word...

Yes, it is.

But it means so much more

because of what
we associate it with.

Touch.

Things aren't beautiful
because of how they sound.

They're beautiful
because of what they mean.

Tell me a story.

What?

The story of Cellar Door.

No, I can't.

Why not?

When someone asks me
to play the piano...

That's a different thing
altogether.

Tell me a story.

In any language you want.

- Don't be ridiculous.
- The legend...

of Cellar Door.

No, I'm not
a performing monkey.

(SIGHS)
It begins with the arrival

of a proud
and opinionated princess.

Yes, you're right about that.

She demands entertainment.

Princess Cellardoor is bored.

Bored of cakes and muffins

- and exquisite china...
- No.

She longs for another life.

- It's not a name.
- What?

It's something else.

Cellardoor. It's not a
princess's name, it can't be.

Cellardoor...

is a place.

It's a place.
An ancient place.

Impossible to reach, except...

by the most treacherous climb.

It hangs... no...

No?

It's not a climb... It's not...

Door...

(MUMBLES)

...road... path. It's a path.

A path through a dense,
dark forest.

Oh, is it, now?

And at the heart
of Cellardoor,

which is actually a shrine,

there stands
an extraordinary sight.

(GASPS) Is it a proud
and opinionated princess?

It is a place which is revered
by all who know of it.

A sacred place,
marked at its center by...

By?

By trees.

EDITH: Trees?

TOLKIEN: One of
the purest black like ebony,

the other... white as bone.

They each contain
a deadly poison in their sap.

But they have grown together
over thousands of years.

Leaning into each other, like...

they were fighting, or...

The roots...

the branches of the two trees,
reaching, twisting,

gnarling around each other,

have finally become
a single knotted trunk.

Their poisoned saps commingled

to create a powerful,
life-giving potion.

The water... of Cellardoor.

What does it do?

What does it do?

Yes.

What does it do?

- To drink it...
- Yes?

The water of Cellardoor,
to taste it,

is to possess
the power of sight.

Sight beyond sight.

Sight into the deepest,

darkest parts
of the human heart.

It's a hungry, potent magic.

A magic beyond anything
anyone has ever felt before.

(BOTH SNICKER)

What did you do that for?

I was filled with the spirit
of Cellardoor.

Go on. Your turn.

No.

What's the worst
that could happen?

(COINS JINGLING)

Aren't you supposed
to be studying?

Oh, yes. Thank you.

- They sound very exciting.
- Yes.

I mean, I'm not saying
that everything everyone says

is going to be
absolutely fascinating.

- EDITH: It'll be fine.
- TOLKIEN: Yes.

EDITH: I hope
I've dressed up properly.

- More tea?
- EDITH: Uh...

So, what do you
normally talk about?

CHRISTOPHER: Uh, we...

We talk about all sorts
of really interesting things.

Really interesting.

Interesting
and fascinating, and...

you know, that's when we're not
trying to change the world.

GEOFFREY: When we're not
trying to change the world,

the thing we're focusing
on most, Miss Bratt, is...

Please. Edith.

Is our university entrance.

Are you all trying for Oxford?

Well, Tolkien and I are.

The other two are aiming
for Cambridge.

- Treacherous beasts.
- Are you nervous?

Robbie isn't.

Oh.

I don't believe
in examinations.

I write what I think.

And if they want to give me
a mark, it's up to them.

What a revolutionary approach.

Why, thank you. (CHUCKLES)

I would love to hear you play
the piano sometime, Miss...

- Edith.
- (LAUGHS)

She plays marvelously.

EDITH:
You're a composer yourself,

isn't that right, Christopher?

Yes.

- No, he's been published.
- Heavens.

Which composers do you admire?

- Um, I like the Romantics.
- So do I.

Beethoven. Brahms. Wagner.

I appreciate Wagner.
I'm not sure that I like him.

You "appreciate" him?

Yes. As an agent of emotion,
I mean.

The operas...
They're somehow...

I love Wagner's Rheingold.

ROBERT: Christopher
finds those too long.

No, I don't.

ROBERT:
Well, nobody blames you.

It shouldn't take six hours

to tell a story
about a magic ring.

No, Gilson, you don't know
what you're talking about.

Of course, operas can be
considered long and laborious

but for my music,
whatever the length,

it is imperative
that it has heart.

A sensation of intoxication...

- Look, I'm afraid we must go.
- Already?

TOLKIEN: Yes, Mrs. Faulkner
will be worried.

Oh, Tollers,
there's so much tea left.

No, but we have
exams coming up

and I, for one, have to study.

I'm sorry. Goodbye, all.

It was lovely meeting you.

- Bye.
- ALL: Goodbye, Edith.

TOLKIEN: I'll fetch our coats.

EDITH: Are you ashamed of me?

TOLKIEN: What?

EDITH: I can't think
of another explanation.

TOLKIEN: I don't know
what you're talking about.

You know
how I spend my days, John.

You've seen me.

I'm a companion.

A prisoner.

There's no secret
literary societies for me.

No escape.

I play piano
for Mrs. Faulkner.

Terrible, sentimental songs
on the piano.

I sit with her in the evening.

Read with her. Sew with her.

Listen to her.

I have a passion for Wagner.

I want to talk about him.
To discuss. To debate.

But you...

(FOOTSTEPS RECEDING)

(DISTANT EXPLOSIONS)

(EXPLOSIONS CONTINUE)

(DEEP GROWLING)

(DISTANT, HEAVY THUDDING)

(LOW GROWLING)

(MEN SCREAMING)

OFFICER: Take cover!

(MEN SCREAMING)

- (GUNFIRE)
- (SCREAMING)

SAM: Run, sir!

Sir, I think we're safe.

It's okay.

(PANTING)

Sir. Let's stay here, sir.

Let's stay here, sir.

(PIANO PLAYING
SOFT CLASSICAL MUSIC)

Haven't you anything
a little more cheerful, dear?

(MUSIC STOPS)

(SIGHS SOFTLY)

(PLAYING JOLLY MUSIC)

GEOFFREY: "Shapes in the mist

It is long since I saw you

Pale hands and faces, quiet eyes

Crowned with a garland
that dead hands wrought you

Out of remembrance
that never dies

One among you
is tall and supple

Good to love
and to fight beside

Only the stain
of a deadly quarrel

Only that
and the years divide"

- It's dreadful.
- It's superb.

- Stop being such a moron.
- It isn't finished.

ROBERT: It's wonderful.

It's Greek, in a way.
The love of comrades.

It's very emotive.
You should be proud.

Right. Who's next?

Tollers?

No, I haven't anything new.

- ROBERT: Really?
- TOLKIEN: Mmm.

ROBERT: Well,
if Tolkien is betraying

the brotherhood with a blank,

I'm going to show you
something utterly degenerate.

(LAUGHTER)

GEOFFREY: This cannot be good.

CHRISTOPHER: Heavens above.

ROBERT: Copied, unfortunately.

And what I need
is life models.

Not much chance of that,
of course.

TOLKIEN: I take it
that's not one of yours.

ROBERT: What, my father's
aristocratic pretensions?

Needless to say,
he hasn't got a rifle,

a stately home,
or a pack of spaniels.

(CHRISTOPHER LAUGHS)

Have you really
not written anything?

Not even inspired
by Miss Bratt?

Don't be an ass, Wiseman.
Edith and I...

share a lodging.

So, her heart
is still unclaimed?

Thank you, Tolkien.
Good to know.

ROBERT:
So, you've written nothing?

I can't get into my stride.
I feel... unfocused.

CHRISTOPHER: You know what
I think that's a symptom of?

Constipation?

- (LAUGHS)
- Ha-ha-ha.

Love.
Requited or otherwise.

Yes. Thank you.

What a wonderful insight

into the human condition,
Chris.

It's a pity it doesn't find
its way into your music.

You know, I'm surprised
you expect us to believe

a single word you say,
Tolkien.

What's that supposed to mean?

CHRISTOPHER: You kept the
delectable Miss Bratt from us.

Who knows what else
you might be concealing.

Christopher.

A wife, three children
and a ranch in Argentina.

Since you ask.

God, I wish
I had Tolkien's secret life,

eh, Geoff?

TOLKIEN: Can we please
just play the game?

(DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES)

I thought you said
he was away?

- Yes, he was.
- (FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

He is...

Geoffrey, give me
that quickly. Thank you.

ROBERT: Where do I put
these things?

GEOFFREY: (WHISPERING)
Quickly.

ROBERT: Shh!

(FOOTSTEPS GROW NEARER)

(DOOR OPENS)

- Sir.
- TOLKIEN: Headmaster.

What's this?

You said I might have
some friends here, sir.

While you were away.

Your aunt is better.

I came home.

I have work to do.
Send them home now.

I've promised the boys that
they can stay the night, sir.

Circumstances
have changed, however.

And now they will go home.

(FOOTSTEPS RECEDING)

Helheimr.

Don't be ridiculous.

Helheimr.

Helheimr.

If not now, then when?
(LAUGHS)

ROBERT: Sir?

I prefer not to go back on
my offer of hospitality, sir.

I think it ungentlemanly.

You think...

I'm sorry. What?

Ungentlemanly, sir.

Father, I think it rude.

The boys are here to study.

And play billiards.

Yes, and play billiards.

We've worked hard, sir.
And these are my friends.

And I have made them
a promise, which...

with respect,

I would like to keep.

Very well.

- (SIGHS IN RELIEF)
- (BOYS SNICKERING)

CHRISTOPHER: Gilson.
You're a bloody hero.

- ROBERT: (WHISPERS) Boys, stop.
- CHRISTOPHER: Bloody hero.

- Helheimr.
- (ALL LAUGH)

(DOOR OPENS)

There's a word in old German,

it has no translation
in English,

but it means
a gift offered fearfully

in the wake of an argument.

Drachenfutter.

Literally, "Dragon Food."

So now I'm a dragon?

(STAMMERS)

(BELL TOLLING)

EDITH: Wagner wrote it
in four acts.

It starts with a ring,

a magical ring
which can rule the world

and which is forged
by a dwarf.

It's Alberich.

Well, I have picked up the odd
bit of German mythology.

But to harness
the ring's power,

you first have to
renounce love.

Oh. A very sensible exchange,
in my opinion.

Well, that's because
you're a coldhearted Viking.

Two, please. Upper gallery.

Gallery
and upper gallery full.

Sorry, what?

The gallery and upper gallery
are full. I'm sorry.

Nothing at all?

That's what we mean
by full, sir, yes.

There is availability
in the dress circle.

The dress circle.

But that's five shillings.

And we do
respectfully ask patrons

to dress appropriately
for that tier, sir.

Come on.

Edith.

Follow me.

- (GATE CREAKS)
- (HORSE NEIGHS IN DISTANCE)

(DOOR RATTLES)

Sorry.

It's fine.

Humiliating.

Counting out the pennies.
It's shameful.

(SIGHS)

I'm not going
to live like that.

And neither should you.

They're just tickets.
We can...

It's not the tickets.

It's about not losing
the people you love.

Looking after them.

My mother, she...

She was sick.

I don't know what it was.

But, maybe,
if I could have paid...

for a doctor, I...

then...

Sorry.

This isn't going to work.

It was a nice idea, though.

(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING
IN DISTANCE)

(MUFFLED ORCHESTRAL
MUSIC BEGINS)

- (WOMAN SINGING IN GERMAN)
- (LIP-SYNCHING)

(MAN SINGING IN GERMAN)

(WOMAN SINGING)

MASTER: You may begin.

Oxford entrance. Paper 1.

The time is nine o'clock,

and you have three hours.

Good luck.

TOLKIEN:
Look, I can take it again.

I can take it again,
and I can pass.

To pass is not enough.

You need a scholarship.

I'm worried, Ronald.

I'm sure Master Gilson
has no need for a scholarship.

As for Geoffrey Smith...

This has nothing to do
with my friends.

We encourage each other,
we push each other on.

Your fellow lodger.

Miss Bratt.

No, Edith has nothing to do
with my failing that exam.

You were seen coming out
of her room. At night.

We talked.

We talk to each other.

- Oh. So, it's true.
- Yes, of course it's true.

- It doesn't...
- The night before the exam,

you accompanied her
to the concert hall.

That, also,
has nothing to do with this?

(SIGHS) She's not even
Catholic, Ronald.

Your mother

made a sacrifice.

She knew she was dying

and she trusted your future
and education to me.

I intend to honor that.

The time has come
for you to choose

whether or not you will follow
in her example.

I don't think I understand.

I must ask you

to have nothing more
to do with Miss Bratt.

That's ridiculous.
That's completely unfair.

- Nevertheless.
- No. No, I...

I can't. I won't.

I am your legal guardian...

Yes, but you don't understand.

- Oh, I understand perfectly.
- No. Father. (SIGHS)

I love her.

I wish...

Ronald, I wish you could enjoy

the same luxuries
other boys do.

- I wish...
- No, you're jealous.

You don't want that at all.
You're jealous.

You say that but you don't
mean it. You're a priest.

You don't know anything
about love. How could you?

- Listen to me.
- You want me to be alone.

You want me to live alone
like you and have nothing.

I won't.
I won't live like that.

If after the age of 21,
you still feel the same way,

you are, of course,
free to do as you please.

Until that time,

you have a duty to fulfill.

And you will fulfill it,
Ronald.

So, help me God,
you will fulfill it.

TOLKIEN:
I can't fail it again.

And you know what will happen
if I don't get into Oxford.

I could become a priest,

but I don't think
a life of celibacy

is what either of us
had in mind.

Edith?

Edith, it's just until
I reach my majority.

Oh, for God's sake, Ronald.

Don't be so dramatic.

It doesn't matter.

No, don't say that.
Of course, it matters.

I don't know why
you're taking it so hard.

Things are just returning
to normal, that's all.

To reality.

No, I won't give up
on our future. (SIGHS)

That's why I'm...

I refuse to give up on that.

Of course, you will.

More quickly than you think.

- So will I.
- No, that's not true.

Edith, please. Look...

I let myself believe

that there were happy endings
for people like us.

But there aren't.

There can't be.

But you get your happy ending.

Hope you enjoy Oxford.

No. Edith.

(FOOTSTEPS RECEDING)

I need your help.

I need to rest, Sam.

You have to find Geoffrey.

Sir, I'm not leaving you here.

- Sam.
- I'm not leaving you here.

Sam. It's an order.

Find Geoffrey
and tell him not to lose hope.

Tell him that
the T.C.B.S., we...

Just keep him alive.

(FAINTLY) Thank you, Sam.

- ROSE: Is it a dragon?
- It's a dragon. It's a dragon.

CHRISTOPHER:
For goodness' sake.

I was wondering,
did I mention before...

The set of the play is
very much inspired

by the architecture
of Trinity.

Sorry, chaps.

- But what's it about?
- Well...

- And so, you're the poet?
- No, uh, that's Geoffrey.

I think you Oxford men
should be upping the game. No?

- Where are we off to next?
- Yes, do tell.

Yes, where shall we...?
Sorry, excuse me.

Um...

Right.

(BELL TOLLING)

ROBERT: Stealing a bus?
That's your plan?

- GEOFFREY: Gilson! Quiet!
- CHRISTOPHER: Hurry up!

GEOFFREY: Shh!

I think that particular match
it was the Oxford men

- versus the Cambridge boys.
- (LAUGHTER)

ROBERT: Oh, come on,
the referee was blind.

CHRISTOPHER: I hereby declare

the third Oxford council
of the T.C.B.S.

well and truly open.

And would like to welcome

our damsels
from the Eagle and Child

as honorary guests.

May all our meetings
take place

on an abandoned omnibus.

I think the word "abandoned"
might be stretching it.

- Maybe a bit.
- (LAUGHTER)

MARY: What is the T.C.B.?

- ROBERT: Oh, the T.C.B.S.
- Oh.

I don't think you like me,
Mr. Burglar.

- Sorry, I was just...
- I apologize for my friend.

- He's pining for someone.
- What?

CHRISTOPHER: He's pining
for the delectable Miss Bratt.

ROBERT: Take no notice of him.

Who's the delectable
Miss Bratt?

- She's no one.
- Oh, is she, Tollers?

The way you've been
moping around

for the past couple of months.

It's not very nice
to talk about another lady

when you're with someone.

No, you're absolutely right.
I apologize, Myrtle.

- It's Beryl.
- (LAUGHTER)

See? See? Sitting in the arms
of a beautiful girl

and he can't even
remember her name.

I'm sorry if my difficulties

are getting in the way
of your diversions.

Ah, you made a decision,
Tolkien.

Nobody forced you into it.

- What?
- CHRISTOPHER: Edith or Oxford.

You chose Oxford,
and here you are!

Sat on a commandeered bus
with three beautiful girls

and your best friends. For
God's sake, enjoy yourself!

- Nobody forced me?
- CHRISTOPHER: Oh, yes...

The priest. Your benefactor.

Chris, this is
getting out of hand.

- Don't talk about things you...
- Thank you. This was wonderful.

You let her go.
You didn't want her

- more than you wanted Oxford.
- No.

- I didn't have a choice.
- Does that make you a rotter?

Does that make you
something else?

- What's the matter with you?
- Just shut up!

Oh, for God's sake, Tollers.

- (CHRISTOPHER GROANS)
- TOLKIEN: Chris. Sorry, Chris.

- Bloody hell, Tollers.
- Are you all right?

For an intellectual,

you've quite
an impressive right hook.

- Hit me back. Please.
- No.

Hit me back right now.
Please, Chris.

- Forget it. Forget it.
- TOLKIEN: Chris, please.

CHRISTOPHER: It's fine.

No, that was horrible of me.
I'm sorry.

ROBERT: What you need
to understand, Tolkien, you...

poor lawless orphan,

is that we are your brothers.

Through everything.

Yes, absolutely.

Exactly.

ROBERT: This is more than...
just a friendship.

It's an alliance.

An invincible alliance.

Helheimr!

- ALL: Helheimr.
- TOLKIEN: Still Helheimr.

Every time he gets it wrong.

GEOFFREY:
Right, I need a drink.

CHRISTOPHER:
Where did the girls go?

GEOFFREY: (WHISPERS)
Shh. Get down.

CONSTABLE:
Hold the door, George.

They let you out in one piece.

They're speaking to the rector
in the morning.

What about you?

Well, Gilson and Wiseman,
the Cambridge swines,

have been let go already.

I wasn't quite so lucky.

Looks like I'll be joining you

in the rector's office
tomorrow.

Death by lecture.

I'm sorry, Geoff.

- No, it's not your fault.
- No, it is.

If it wasn't for me,
you'd be in the arms

of the delightful Mary by now.

GEOFFREY: Please. The moment
I showed any interest,

she started talking about
her sweetheart.

TOLKIEN: I was doing all right
until Wiseman ruined it.

(BELL TOLLING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

GEOFFREY: The rector was
honestly writing to my mother.

Do you think I stand a chance
of becoming a poet after this?

She's going to lose her mind.
So, that's that.

ROBERT: Oh, Geoffrey's
only lost his career.

What did you get, Tolkien?

- I got sent down.
- (ALL LAUGH)

(STAMMERS)
Are you joking, Tollers?

They can't
send you down for that.

For a bloody picnic on a bus.

The bus was the least of it.

I haven't achieved the grades.

According to the rector,

I have no flair
for the Greats,

and only a passing interest
in the ancient Greeks.

So, they won't endorse
my scholarship.

Yes, but that doesn't mean
you have to go down.

No, of course not.
How stupid of me.

Yes, when Mama gets back
from Monte Carlo,

I'll ask her
to write another check.

(SCOFFS)

What are you going to do?

They'll endorse my scholarship
until the end of term.

After that, I have to finance
my own studies.

Which is, of course,
impossible,

so, get a job, I suppose.

Well, doing what?

I will go back to Birmingham
and work in a bakery.

Or I will make shoes
for rich dimwits like you

who come in
waving their wallets.

I could do with a new pair
of Oxfords, anyway.

(BOTH CHUCKLE)

But, in all seriousness,

you've always had more flair
than any of us.

And...

I'll be honest,

I sometimes hated you for it.

But, out of us all,

you're the last person
who should be sent down.

GEOFFREY:
So, tomorrow is our last game.

ROBERT: We're gonna really
miss thrashing you, chaps.

GEOFFREY: Please.

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

PLAYER: Wiseman, stop him!

(SHOUTING CONTINUES)

- (GRUNTING)
- (BLOWING WHISTLE)

(CROWD CHEERS)

- Well done, Tolkien.
- Thank you.

- (LAUGHING)
- Good game, boys.

- That was a beautiful run.
- Well played, you big oaf.

You weren't a total fool,
Tollers.

GEOFFREY: Sorry, what was
the score, Wiseman?

(LAUGHTER)

Well played, lads.

Hello, Mother.

- Well played, Geoffrey.
- Thank you for coming.

Are we still on
for dinner later?

Yes. Seven o'clock.

And your father will be there.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

TOLKIEN:
Excuse me, Mrs. Smith.

I wondered if I might
have a brief word.

Well?

It's about Geoffrey and, um,
this business with the rector.

It's been the most dreadful
misunderstanding.

I'd prefer not to talk about
that, if you don't mind.

I'm responsible for everything
that happened that night

and I assure you
I've been thoroughly punished.

I'm trying to say,
please don't

make things harder
on Geoffrey.

He's one of the most
diligent people I know.

And the kindest.

He tries so hard
to make you proud of him.

And he has such
exceptional talents.

I know
I'm speaking out of line...

- And you were responsible?
- Yes.

Yes, and I've been sent down.

So, you needn't worry about
my influence anymore.

And, um...

What... What talents
are you referring to?

He's a poet.

He's had his work published
in college magazines.

He'd kill me for telling
you this. But he's good.

Good afternoon to you.

PORTER: Mr. Tolkien?

- This is for you.
- Thank you.

(LIQUID SLOSHING IN BOTTLE)

(SPEAKING UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

PROFESSOR:
Students off the grass!

Have you any idea
what time it is?

(SPEAKS UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

(IN ENGLISH)
You silly old sod!

I say, Wright,
is he one of yours?

I don't believe he is.

(SPEAKING UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

(IN ENGLISH) You silly old...

PROFESSOR: Get off the lawn!

Hail Earendel,

brightest of angels
sent unto men.

(SPEAKING UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

GEOFFREY: Ronald.
Ronald, get up.

Get up. It's me. Wake up.

Yes, I'm awake.

You've woken up
the whole college.

They can't send me down twice,
can they?

- Pull yourself together.
- Can they?

Geoff! Geoff, sit down.

Have a drink. Wonderful malt.

I don't want a drink.
Pull yourself together, John.

(GEOFFREY PANTING)

(SIGHS)

Would you like to come
to a wedding?

What?

- Very beautiful, English...
- John...

- ...summer wedding.
- You're not making any sense.

Edith.

Congratulations.

Yes, she wrote to me. She's...

She's engaged.

She's getting married.

Oh, John, that's...

That's awfully bad luck.

(VOICE QUIVERING) I'm sorry.
I'm in a bit of a mess.

- No, that's okay. Hey, hey...
- Sorry, Geoff.

It's okay. It's okay.

- That's okay.
- (SOBBING)

I've got you.

I've got you.

REFEREE: Fencers salute!

- How are you feeling?
- (FOILS CLASHING)

Oh, absolutely fantastic.

Delightful.

And what a marvelous idea
this was, thank you.

To love someone,

who, for whatever reason,
cannot return your feelings

is painful.

But if you listen
to the poets,

perhaps there's a kind
of beauty to that love.

It burns.

Bright.

And it's never tainted
by reality or by...

overuse.

It's as clear and fierce today

as it was
the very first day it began.

And there's beauty to that,

I think.

At least, that's what
I cling to, anyway.

(MASTER SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY)

WRIGHT: Hails!

Uh... Hails!

(CONTINUES SPEAKING
ANCIENT GOTHIC)

(UNDER BREATH)
Another gobbledygook speaker.

(IN ENGLISH) How are you, uh,
finding the Gothic Primer?

Yes. Not bad. The preface
is pretty well written.

There's not much
of the language itself.

- Ah, a pity about that.
- Yes.

- Last night in the quad...
- God. You were there.

...I heard a language
I was unfamiliar with.

Well, of course,
the greater part

of Oxfordshire heard it too,

right up to
the Chiltern Hills.

I was very drunk.

I don't doubt it.

It was utter nonsense.

A language I invented
for the fairies.

I thought perhaps
I heard some Finnish.

- Yes. I stole a good deal.
- Ah.

- Not stole.
- No.

Languages never steal.

- Right.
- Influenced.

Sorry, I didn't
catch your name. I'm...

I'm Tolkien. Ronald.
Exeter College.

(SIGHS)

Excuse me.

A child points,

and is taught a word.

Tree.

Later, he learns
to distinguish this tree

from all the others.

He learns its particular name.

He plays under the tree.

He dances around it.

Stands beneath its branches,
for shade or shelter.

He kisses under it,
he sleeps under it,

he weds under it.

He marches past it
on his way to war,

and limps back past it
on his journey home.

A king is said to have
hidden in this tree.

A spirit may dwell
within its bark.

Its distinctive leaves

are carved onto the tombs and
monuments of his landlords.

Its wood might have built
the galleons

that saved his ancestors
from invasion.

And all this,

the general and the specific,

the national and the personal,

all this,

he knows,

and feels,

and summons, somehow,
however faintly,

with the utterance
of a single sound.

Oak.

Saxon word. Proto-Germanic.

Cognates in Old Norse. Eik.

Language is never nonsense.

Language is meaning.

History.
Layer upon layer upon layer.

And a word without meaning
is what?

Merely a sound.

Someone else
once said that to me.

With a good deal more economy,
I shouldn't wonder.

(CHUCKLES)

There are one or two
original Gothic texts

in the library.

You should take a look.

But I can't just walk in
and ask for the originals.

Tell them Professor Wright
sent you.

CHRISTOPHER:
He wouldn't have cared.

That's not the point.

He's probably
the greatest philologist,

certainly
of the Gothic language.

He might have
even been flattered.

Of course, he was flattered.

Nobody's taken that book out
of the library in 1,500 years.

Well, actually,
I had it out last week.

ROBERT: Oh.
How did you find it?

I don't want to spoil it
for Tollers.

He won't finish it. He doesn't
even know who wrote it.

Please. Will you all just
shut up? It's not funny.

Listen, Tolkien,

you absolute clown.

This is your chance,
can't you see?

Your Gothic professor
is encouraging you to defect.

What are you talking about?

He's enticing you
into his class.

- (ALL SHUSHING)
- Sorry.

(WHISPERS) He's right.

But I can't just breeze
into the philology department.

Why not?

Because I don't have
a scholarship, for a start.

So, are you telling me
that the philology department

don't give out scholarships?

Yes, for someone who happens
to be a genius with languages.

- ROBERT: Moron.
- (CHRISTOPHER LAUGHS)

Professor!

- Excuse me, Professor Wright.
- Yes.

I've been thinking
about the oak.

Uh, the symbolism of it.

The guardian tree,
the harbinger of change.

How fascinating. Are you
a student of arboriculture?

No. I'm studying Greats.
But I would like...

That's why I stopped you,

I'd like to change
to your class.

- To study philology.
- To my class?

Yes. I'm Tolkien.
Ronald Tolkien.

I stood outside your window
and shouted obscenities

in a kind of
bastardized Finnish.

And you consider
that a recommendation?

I know this is irregular,

but I've realized
my true passion,

the thing I've been working on
my entire life...

Can I speak candidly, sir?

You cannot conceive
how much I would welcome it.

- I need a scholarship.
- (SIGHS)

I need a scholarship
to study philology. With you.

And there are no lengths
I wouldn't go to,

to prove that
I'm a worthy candidate.

- No lengths?
- Yes.

(SPEAKING OLD ENGLISH)

No.

- No?
- No.

No, because if I left you
alone to work in peace,

then I wouldn't
get the privilege

of learning from you,

and that would defeat
the purpose

of this entire, frankly,
quite terrifying, interlude.

- Tolkien.
- Yes, sir.

- German origin.
- I think so, sir.

From the Anglo-Saxon, perhaps.

- Exactly.
- Tollk├╝hn.

I'm assuming you don't need me

to translate
that particular word for you.

Foolhardy.

Professor Wright...

My class is full, Mr. Tolkien.

Full with students who can
translate Old English,

at least as quickly
and skillfully as you,

and they've already had two
terms to establish themselves.

Good afternoon.

Helheimr.

Professor.

Since childhood, I have
been fascinated with language.

Obsessed with it.
I've invented my own.

Full, complete languages.
Look.

This is, it's... everything.

From the Breost-hord.
My heart.

The treasure of the breast.

And the drawings?

I made stories. Legends.

After all,
what is language for?

It's not just the naming
of things, is it?

It's the lifeblood
of a culture, a people.

- Yes. Exactly.
- Exactly.

Could you write 5,000 words

on the influence
of Norse elements in Gawain?

Yes, absolutely.
When would you like it by?

WRIGHT: This evening.

This evening.

(READING BEOWULF
IN OLD ENGLISH)

Middle Earth.

(HORSE NEIGHING)

"Both of these brothers
marshaled the warriors

They bid their dear kinsman
through words

that they had to endure there
in time of need

make use of their weapons
without weakening"

The way you follow
the rhythms of the poetry,

your sensitivity to it.

I have to tell you,
Mr. Tolkien,

I've never come across
anything like it.

Never.

"Byrthwold spoke out..."

"Byrthwold spoke out,
brandished his shield..."

War! War! England's at war!

Germany's invaded Belgium!

(PEOPLE CLAMORING)

"He instructed the warriors
most boldly of all:

Courage must be the harder

heart the keener

spirits the greater,
as our strength wanes

Here lies our lord,
entirely cut to pieces

a good man in the dirt"

- (PEPPY JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)
- (INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(PIANO PLAYING
SOFT CLASSICAL MUSIC)

(STOPS PLAYING)

TOLKIEN: Here you go, Chris.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Robert Gilson.

CHRISTOPHER: Gilson!

Aren't you going to ask me
to dance?

Did you lose a bet?

ROBERT: I've had three envious
glances already, actually.

People must have mistaken you
for the Kaiser.

What is this?
A war or a tea dance?

- First-class mustache, Gilson.
- Why, thank you.

- You need a drink, young man.
- ROBERT: On the ball.

GEOFFREY: I think
we're all here, Tolkien.

Yes.

Shall we make a toast?

To all the future
T.C.B.S. meetings.

All across Europe.

Cheers, gentlemen.

- Gentlemen! May I?
- I don't see why not.

ROBERT: Eyes front, Tolkien.

PHOTOGRAPHER:
And watch the birdie!

ALL: Helheimr!

(CAMERA FLASH POPS)

ROBERT: I've just written a
play where a French waitress

falls madly in love
with an English hero.

TOLKIEN: You'll have to shave

if you want to play
a French waitress.

ROBERT: Cheers.
Never too many.

One more?

ROBERT: All bets
Wiseman goes to sleep first.

GEOFFREY:
I'll take that bet. Scotch?

ROBERT: Easy money.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

Good luck, Ronald.

I'll take that.

I'll try and hold the ship.

- EDITH: How's your brother?
- TOLKIEN: He's fine.

He's in France already.

How about you?
How's your music?

EDITH: I teach piano.

Small girls, mostly.

Not very good.

And you're engaged.

He's very kind.

Very considerate.

A good person, really.

There is something
I have to say...

Ronald.

I made the biggest mistake
of my life

and there hasn't been a day,
a moment...

I've never stopped
thinking about you.

You are the most remarkable
spirit I have ever met.

You have courage
and resourcefulness, talent,

you're proud,

maddeningly, wonderfully, so;

and you are
cunning and vibrant

and completely alive.

You deserve
every happiness you find.

No. No, you don't.

You don't deserve happiness,
that's not what I...

What I mean is...

You deserve much more.

You deserve magic.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

Is it that one?

TOLKIEN: It's the Ascanius.

Sounds like something
out of one of your stories.

Yes. "Pity the poor citizens
of the kingdom of Ascanius."

Why shall we pity them?

For their terrible history.

For their shame.

Their regrets.

They should
forgive themselves.

They can't.

MAN: Lancashires
on the Ascanius!

I'd better...

This has been so nice.

Goodbye, little one.

Edith.

- I love you.
- I love you.

- I love you so much.
- I know. (CHUCKLES)

There's nothing
I could do about it.

I know. I can't either.

(BOTH LAUGH)

(MAN SHOUTING IN DISTANCE)

I have to go.

- Stay alive.
- Yes.

And come back to me.

Stay alive
and come back to me.

(FOOTSTEPS SLOSHING)

SAM: Sir, I found them.
Get up!

- I found the 19th Lancashires.
- Geoff.

You have to get up, sir.

(DISTANT EXPLOSIONS)

Let's find your friend.
We're almost there.

- (PANTING)
- (EXPLOSIONS CONTINUE)

OFFICER: Fire!

SOLDIER: Get up the ladder!

- (GUNFIRE)
- (MEN SHOUTING)

(SCREAMING)

OFFICER: Attach your bayonets!

PRIVATE: I can't do it.

SERGEANT: Come on, Private.
Come on!

Geoffrey!

OFFICER: This way! Quickly!

SOLDIER:
Right, you Lancashires!

Geoffrey!

- (WHISTLE BLOWING)
- (MEN CLAMORING)

Where's Geoffrey Bache Smith?

Lieutenant
Geoffrey Bache Smith?

Bache Smith isn't here.
He's already gone over the top.

- No!
- Yes. Sorry.

- (SHOUTING CONTINUES)
- (PANTING)

Geoffrey!

OFFICER: Don't stop for wounded.

Geoffrey!

- Sir, what are you doing? Wait!
- TOLKIEN: Don't follow me.

OFFICER: Up the ladder,
Lancashires!

Geoff!

Geoffrey!

- (EXPLOSIONS)
- (MEN SHOUTING)

(SCREAMING)

- (GUNFIRE)
- (MEN GROANING)

SOLDIER: Don't slow down!

Geoff!

GEOFFREY: Ronald!

- Geoff!
- (EXPLOSION)

Geoff!

Geoff!

GEOFFREY: Ronald!

Geoffrey!

(EXPLOSIONS)

GEOFFREY: Ronald!

Geoff!

What?

GEOFFREY: Ronald!

Geoff!

GEOFFREY: Ronald!

Ronald!

Geoff!

Geoffrey!

(CAVALRY YELLING)

SOLDIER: Gas!

(MEN SHOUTING)

SOLDIER:
Get that bloody mask on!

Gas!

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

- (GUNFIRE)
- (MEN SHOUTING)

(GASPING)

(EXHALES HEAVILY)

(GROWLING)

(EERIE, INDISTINCT WHISPERING)

(DEEP GROWLING)

(ECHOING VOICES YELLING)

EDITH: (SOFTLY) Hello.

Don't try to sit up.

You've been asleep
for a very long time.

You've had trench fever,
but you're all right.

You're home.

(WEAKLY) I tried to find him.

Who?

Geoffrey, I...

I heard him...

I could hear him.

Geoffrey is... is dead.

He died weeks ago.

What?

No.

Robert Gilson, he was...

he was hit.

He's also dead.

Robbie and Geoffrey.

I'm sorry.

Ron, I'm so sorry.

But you're fine. You're home.
Every...

Everything's going to be fine.
I promise.

FATHER FRANCIS:
I spend my every afternoon

with mothers, widows.

What can I say to them?

Your sons have died
in the war to end all wars.

TOLKIEN: What do you say?

Words are useless.

Modern words, anyway.

I speak the liturgy.

There's a comfort, I think,
in distance.

Ancient things.

Throughout the whole
of your illness,

Miss Bratt
never left your bedside.

Not once.

You were right to pursue her.

Thank you.

Oh. This arrived for you via...

a very circuitous route.

He wrote it, I believe,
during his last days.

GEOFFREY:
My dear John Ronald,

It is my chief consolation
that if I am scuppered tonight

there will still be left
a great member of the T.C.B.S.

to voice what I dreamed
and what we all agreed upon.

That the death
of one of its members cannot,

I am determined,

dissolve the T.C.B.S.

Death can make us loathsome
and helpless as individuals,

but it cannot put an end
to the immortal four!

May God bless you,
my dear John Ronald,

and may you say the things
I have tried to say

long after I am not there
to say them.

(BELL TOLLING IN DISTANCE)

(BIRD CHIRPING)

STUDENT 1: Good evening,
Professor Tolkien.

- STUDENT 2: Evening, sir.
- TOLKIEN: Ah.

(GREETS IN ANGLO-SAXON)

(BELL TOLLING AND DOG BARKING
IN DISTANCE)

What are you doing out here?

We had a jam pudding today
with the children.

Michael's request.

He and John put a tray
outside your study.

I hope you had some.

I'm sorry, I...

I'm sorry.

Edith, it was
a very difficult day.

Nothing I'm writing...

You used to
write for pleasure.

I know, it's...

- It was a passion.
- I know it's...

pointless.

I wish you would decide

what it is
you want from it, Ronald,

or abandon it entirely.

(SIGHS)

MRS. SMITH: Mr. Tolkien?

TOLKIEN: Mrs. Smith.

It's wonderful to see you.
Thank you for coming.

Robert Gilson was the...

son of the headmaster
at King Edward's.

Yes, that's right.

I remember the stepmother,
I think.

And Christopher Wiseman?

He survived.

Although I'm sorry
to say he's...

Some of us who came through
have other sorts of scars.

My sister lost three sons.

I lost two.

All in the same week.

I'm sorry.

And this is where you sat.

TOLKIEN: Yes.

It's very cozy.

Thank you
for bringing me here.

I can imagine, I can...

see you here.

All of you.

I can picture it.

It must have been
a wonderfully happy time.

This is where Geoffrey sat.

I was wondering,
with your permission,

perhaps I might try to get

a volume
of his poems published.

His poems?

I think he was...

really very talented.

I would like to bring him
to people's attention.

I thought, perhaps, I could
write the foreword myself.

I don't know, I...

I'm inclined to say no,
Mr. Tolkien.

He was really very good.
I think it's important.

I used to be fond of poetry.

I sometimes wondered
if that was where Geoffrey...

I'm sorry, I can't see what
possible good it would do.

It would do the most
extraordinary good.

Please believe me.

I never knew Geoffrey

as much as I would have liked.

Was he happy?

Please, tell me.

Did he know love?

I was an orphan

when I came to King Edward's.

And even at the beginning,
even...

before we were friends,

Geoffrey was gentle.

Kind.

(VOICE QUIVERS) He was,
I think, of anyone I ever met,

the person...

He was the person
who most embodied

what it means to love.

And to be loved.

Truly that's...

That's why
this is so important. Please...

forgive me, but you ask...

what good it could do,
and the... poets,

the writers...

or what our art could do.

I cannot think of anything
more necessary.

Especially
at a time like this.

Especially now.

(MRS. SMITH SNIFFLES)

A foreword would be lovely.

Thank you.

HILARY: Remember how mother
made us kiss the trees?

And listen to them talk.

What dark magic was that?

Come on, you savages.

Come on.

Who wants to speak
to the trees?

MICHAEL: Hey, wait for me.

LITTLE CHRISTOPHER:
What are you thinking?

What's your name?

JOHN: We're not scary.
Don't be worried.

Children, I need your help.

Will you do something for me?

MICHAEL: Is it homework?

Uh, no, not if I get it right.

I want you to listen
to a story.

MICHAEL: What story?

LITTLE CHRISTOPHER:
Is it a good story?

TOLKIEN: I hope so.

MICHAEL: Is it long?

TOLKIEN: Extremely long.

Has it been started?

Yes, I think...

I think, up here, yes,
I think it has.

What's it about?

It's about journeys.
Adventures.

Magic, of course.

Treasure.

And love.

It's about
all kinds of things, really.

It's hard to say. I suppose...

I suppose it's about quests,
to a certain extent.

The journeys we take
to prove ourselves.

About courage.

(QUIETLY) Fellowship.

It's about fellowship.

Friendship.

- Little people just like you.
- I'm not little!

No. Little in stature.

Not little in spirit.

(CHILDREN YELLING)

TOLKIEN:
It's about wizards, too.

- LITTLE CHRISTOPHER: Wizards?
- TOLKIEN: Wizards, yes.

And mountains,
and dragons, and journeys...

EDITH: Christopher, if you
break your neck wearing those,

I will not be taking you
to the hospital.

Hobbit.