In our first episode, we discuss the 2019 movie “Tolkien,” directed by Dome Karukoski and starring Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins. We explore the inspiration that Tolkien drew from his idyllic childhood home and the trenches of World War II, as well as the effects of trauma on the brain and the power of art and beauty to heal that trauma.
Click “Read More” to listen to the episode and to enjoy some cool links!
9:15 Tolkien (2019 biopic film directed by Dome Karukoski, starring Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins.)
11: 33 This movie sparks the creativity in people, even those who might not consider themselves “intellectuals” or “artists.”
17:00 Lots of Tolkien’s inspiration for Mordor undoubtedly came from his time in World War I, “where the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.”
17:35 Was Tolkien a buddy movie, a romance, or a war movie? Or did they try to do all three and fall short in that regard?
18:32 Hannah argues that the strongest through-line was the “band of brothers” buddy movie angle. Tolkien always had brothers (little brother Hillary growing up, classmates from the T.C.B.S. in college, and Sergeant Sam during the war).
20:10 What makes a good romance? Clare and Hannah discuss how the relationship between Tolkien and Edith Bratt is an excellent example of a romance.
24:50 Clare shares a personal story about how beauty touches our hearts and even has healing power. Listen to “Twilight and Shadow,” featuring Renee Fleming, from the soundtrack for The Return of the King. Another song that had a similar effect on Clare is Track 9 (“Meditation #4 Selah”) on The Way of Wisdom album by Michael Card. Note that The Way of Wisdom CD is out-of-print and difficult to find, but most of the songs are available on a compilation 2-CD set called An Invitation to Awe.
26:48 Clare talks about permanent brain damage caused by stress, and how that relates to shell shock.
31:07 Our buddies pull us out of the abyss and challenge us to better ourselves.
32:05 In conclusion, “beauty will save the world,” as Dostoyevsky said. Beauty bypasses logic and goes straight for the heart.
33:15 Clare’s review of Tolkien.
Tolkien (2019 movie directed by Dome Karukoski, starring Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins)
Breaking Bad – The Complete Series on DVD
The X-Files – The Complete Series (starring Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny)
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly (“The very first Bosch novel and still one of my favorites!” — Clare).
The Keys of Death by Clare T. Walker (Clare’s first “veterinary medical thriller”)
The Lord of the Rings (50th anniversary single-volume hardcover edition)
A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 by Joseph Loconte (This 2015 book is a great popular introduction to the lives and imaginations of Tolkien and Lewis, who both served as soldiers in the trenches of World War I.)
The Fellowship: the Literary Lives of the Inklings by Carol Zaleski and Philip Zaleski. A literary biography of Tolkien, Lewis, and the other members of “the Inklings,” the informal Oxford University study and discussion group of which Tolkien and Lewis were the principal members.
Bridget Jones’s Diary (motion picture based on the novel by Helen Fielding, starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant)
Miss Potter (motion picture about Beatrix Potter, celebrated author & illustrator of charming picture books for children, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit)
We provide these resources to help you find and enjoy the things we talked about on this episode! Note that some of these may include “affiliate” links to books and other products. When you click through and purchase, the price of the item is the same for you. In fact, most of the time you’ll get a discount! But the company gives us a little somethin’ somethin’ to say “thanks” for sending you their way! This helps you enjoy the website and the podcast EVEN MORE by eliminating intrusive advertisements. Thanks for clicking!
Clare: Okay! Excellent. Hello, everybody. Welcome to this episode of Splanchnics! I’m your host, independent author Clare T. Walker. This is my cohost, theater professional Hannah Kubiak. On today’s episode…
Hannah: There’s something else important about me that you should tell them.
Clare: What? Oh, yes. This is my daughter.
Clare: Of course. Yes, this is a mother-daughter endeavor here.
Hannah: Yes. Intergenerational.
Clare: That’s right. That’s right. And actually thanks, Mom, Hannah’s grandmother, for the voiceover that you’re about to hear. Yeah, she’s going to do it.
Hannah: She said she would? Ooh, cool!
Clare: Yeah. And so, on today’s episode of Splanchnics we’re talking about Tolkien. J.R.R. Tolkien: the man, the movie, the copyright that’s still in the family. Stay tuned.
Intro music and Clare’s Mom: “Welcome to Splanchnics: the Society for the Preservation of Literature, the Arts, Numinosity, Culture, Humor (ha ha!), Nerdiness, Inspiration, Creativity and Storytelling!”
Clare: Okay, we’re back. Thanks, Mom, again for that voiceover. Before we get into our conversation, let’s do our input-output update. Hannah, what have you been reading and/or watching lately?
Hannah: I’ve been watching Breaking Bad. I’m on the fifth season right now. I’ve been watching a lot of that. It’s pretty good. Very exciting. Actually, Teresa got me onto it. It’s her favorite show.
Hannah: Yeah, she told me to watch it. If people don’t know what it’s about, it’s about a chemistry teacher who gets cancer and he’s thinking, “Well, I’m gonna die in the next year or so. I need to leave money for my family: my wife and my kids.” So, he has to do it quick. He’s a chemist, and he runs into one of his former students who is a meth dealer. They end up cooking meth together in an RV and selling it on the streets and he makes tons and tons and tons of money and all this stuff. But then there’s all these issues with cartels and other people. It’s a high risk….hmm…job! High risk job.
Clare: High risk, high reward.
Hannah: Yeah, cooking and selling meth. Because of the cartels and people coming after you, and then also his brother-in-law is in the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Agency. He has family dinners with the guy who’s looking for him, basically. It’s so cool. It’s so much fun. And it’s such an interesting pair of main characters as well, because it’s this 50-year-old really, really smart, super-intelligent man, and then, actually, this kid. He was the troublemaker in the chemistry teacher’s class, but he ends up helping him cook and stuff. He is one of those people who’s like, “Yo, whatever yo.” He always says, “Yo, whatever yo,” and he always wears baggy pants and stuff. It’s a really funny dynamic, I think.
Clare: If I’m not mistaken, the creator of that show–showrunner, producer–head producer of that show is Vince Gilligan. One of my favorite writers of The X-Files.
Hannah: That’s right. Oh, and the guy who plays Walter White, the chemist? That’s Bryan Cranston. Do you know who Bryan Cranston is?
Hannah: He was in an X-Files episode. You were playing this game with me yesterday when we were watching Bosch. You’re not gonna be able to guess. Do you know what he looks like? He looks a lot different now, though.
Clare: Okay. I’ll have to watch it and see if I can guess which X-Files episode he was in.
Hannah: Should I just tell you for curiosity?
Clare: No, I’m gonna try and guess.
Hannah: He was in an X-Files episode.
Clare: Okay, I’ll watch. I’ll get Breaking Bad and I’ll watch it.
Hannah: That’s my input right now. I’ve been learning about meth dealers.
Clare: Great. I’ve raised you well, evidently.
Hannah: Yep. Alright, now what about you? What’s your input?
Clare: I recently finished watching the last, most recent I should say, season of Bosch, which is the series based on the novels of Michael Connelly about his L.A. detective character, Harry Bosch.
Those are hard-boiled detective stories, very gritty, very realistic. We’ll talk about that, too, about the different kinds of detective mysteries. There’s cozy mysteries versus the hard-boiled detective and they’re very different. Bosch is definitely hard-boiled.
Hannah: I love hard-boiled detectives.
Clare: And the guy who plays Harry Bosch is also in an X-Files episode. The person who plays the person suing him is also in several episodes of The X-Files. His lawyer was in an episode of The X-Files.
Hannah: Big Mike.
Clare: This is interesting, all this confluence about X-Files. Why don’t we just talk about X-Files?
Hannah: Well, we did say we were going to talk about Tolkien, so we should probably do that.
Clare: That’s my input as far as what I have been watching. What have I been reading lately? I can’t remember what I was reading. Hmm. Usually I have a stack of books, but I can’t think of it now. That can be our input for now.
Hannah: Yeah, we talked about both of those things for quite a while. And what are you working on? What’s your output?
Clare: My output is I’m working on my second novel, another veterinary medical thriller. For those of you who don’t know–obviously, how could you?–I’m a veterinarian, which means an animal doctor.
I’m in clinical practice. I take care of people’s dogs and cats and I have definitely gained a lot of experiences that helped me in my fiction writing. I write Veterinary Medical Thrillers, which are basically a sub-genre of the medical thriller. The Medical Thriller was pioneered by authors like Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, and their stories are basically about medical doctors who usually stumble into something rather hair-raising and hazardous.
My Veterinary Medical Thrillers are about a veterinarian who stumbles into something hair-raising and hazardous. This is the second one I’m working on and it is called Lonely River, but my first one is called The Keys of Death. My first one, The Keys of Death, is about a veterinarian who gets involved in a big whistle blowing scheme against a big biotech company.
Lonely River is about a veterinarian who stumbles into a political scandal.
Hannah: When I tell people you’re a vet…People ask “Hey, what does your mom do?” and I say, “She’s a vet.” And they’re like, “Oh, where did she serve?” And I say, “Uhhh…Boone Animal Hospital?”
Clare: You know what when I was kid…it was in fifth grade or sixth grade or something…we were celebrating Veterans Day. The teacher asks, “Does anybody know what Veterans Day is?” And one of my classmates raised her hand and she says, “It’s when all the animal doctors get a day off.”
Hannah: Oh, that’s so great. I used to think that Merlin’s Mufflers and Brakes was Merlin’s Muffins and Bakes, and I always wondered why we didn’t go there to get a snack.
Clare: (laughing) Yeah, why not?
Hannah: Yeah, why do we never go to Merlin’s to get a muffin?
Clare: Muffins and Bakes?
Clare: That’s awesome.
Hannah: Should we talk about our topic?
Clare: Yeah, let’s go into it. Let’s talk about Tolkien. The reason we wanted to talk about Tolkien in 2019 is because a movie came out about him–about his life–a biopic. It was directed by Dome Karukoski. I hope I pronounced his name correctly. Dome Karukoski. I don’t know if it’s pronounced “dome” or “domay.” And it stars Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins. It’s about Tolkien’s life. My impression after I saw the movie was that if you were a Tolkien fan, you would really, really love this movie. And that was borne out when I talked to people who are really wild about Tolkien. They dug it. They thought it was a really great movie.
And then I talked to other people who weren’t necessarily huge Tolkien fans. They may have enjoyed it, but they didn’t just go crazy about it. In fact, it might have been if you didn’t know anything about Tolkien you might think it wasn’t that exciting, maybe. So what about you? You were telling me about your friend who you went to see the movie with?
Hannah: Yeah. It’s funny you should mention that people who don’t know about Tolkien would probably not really like the movie, because the friend that I went to see this movie with a friend of mine. We both work really weird hours, so we’re both “daytime movie-goer friends” because we’re like, “I want to go and see [the] five-dollar movie on Tuesday and I wonder who’s not at work?”
My friend, he was in the Navy for five years, and so he’s sort of a self-proclaimed…he calls himself a grunt. He’s like, “Grrr, I’m just a grunt, you know, I don’t really know anything about books or anything.” He wouldn’t consider himself an intellectual. He’s plenty smart, he has a very strategic mind, but he wouldn’t consider himself to be a literary person. He didn’t really know anything about Tolkien. He knew about The Lord of the Rings, so he recognized stuff where he was like, “Oh, that’s supposed to be where he got the inspiration for that.” But as far as all the biographical stuff, he didn’t really know anything.
But when we got out of the movie, we’re walking back to the car, and he’s like, “Oh my gosh, that was…I feel like I want to, you know, create something, or make something or at least clean my room. You know, just do something that opens your mind a little bit. You know, do something creative.”
It was intellectually stimulating. I think this is a good movie not just for Creative People but also for people who want to be creative.
Hannah: This friend of mine keeps on saying, “Oh, you know, I don’t write. I’m not an artist or anything like that.” I’m like, “Well, you could be. Everybody has an artist inside of them.”
Clare: That’s a really interesting response to that movie because that movie takes great pains to demonstrate the origins of Tolkien’s imagination. You talk about a fertile imagination? Right from the opening scenes where it begins, during Tolkien’s childhood where he’s in this really, really beautiful English countryside and they show these vistas of it and you think, “Well, there’s the shire.” This is where he got the idea for this idyllic, pastoral place, a setting very peaceful, and obviously it was through the lens of his childhood, which was a very happy time for him.
And then other aspects of his imagination: I know that his experience as a soldier in World War One, very much influenced his depictions of places like Mordor.
Hannah: Yeah, the trenches, and all the mud and it was just dark everywhere and no plants whatsoever and just people struggling through the dirt. And his friend: I think it may have actually been the name of…Was it a sergeant who was helping him?
Clare: A sergeant, his little assistant.
Hannah: Yeah! He’s trying to get across to a different encampment to find his friend, because he hadn’t heard from him in a long time, and he wanted to make sure he was still alive. But he had trench fever didn’t he?
Clare: That’s what Tolkien had. Trench fever. Eventually he had to be sent home from the war because of it.
Hannah: The movie kept on flashing forward to when he was in the trenches and there was this one soldier, one of the people who was under his command or something who was helping him get to this other encampment to find his friend, and the soldier’s name was Sam.
Hannah: I loved that. When I was with my buddy and Tolkien’s like, “Thanks for being here, Sam,” and I was like, “It’s Sam!”
Clare: You made the connection.
Hannah: I think I actually grabbed his arm and said, “It’s Sam!” Yeah, and also, in college, he had his four friends. They were part of the…what was the name of their…”
Clare: The Tea Club and Barovian Society. TCBS.
Hannah: There were four of them. It was like the four Hobbits. I loved that. I wonder if he based the hobbits off of his friends.
Clare: The fact that the four Hobbits who go off and they do things together, I think that was definitely part of it.
Hannah: And this movie also reminded me of being a drama student in college, because there was this one scene where they were just in somebody’s apartment and they were all…there was furniture there…but they were all lying on the floor, reciting poetry. And then someone else on another part of the floor would say, “Oh, yeah. That’s a good one. That’s a lovely one, lovely verse.” It kind of reminded me of…I wish I could find it. There’s a picture of me and all my other theater students, literally all lying on the floor in my living room, and we would do that. We would lie there and we’d be trying to pick out monologues for audition workshops or for acting scenes.
For my acting classes, we had to have a monologue and get up there and do it. Finding a monologue is one of the most difficult things in the theater because you find one and you say, “Man, you know…” Especially for women there aren’t very many good female monologues. So I actually end up doing a lot of men’s monologues. But we’d all be lying on the floor, lying there and be saying to somebody, “Hey, you should do a monologue from Red.” “Red? I’ve never read it.” Well you pull it out of the pile that you have all your scripts. You open it up. You say, “Yeah this one. This young guy, he’s doing this thing and you could…” And you read it aloud to the person.
Or we’d just be lying there and somebody would say, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” And then someone from another part of the floor would say, “Thou art more temperate and more lovely.” We all knew these things. We liked nerding out. I loved it. It reminded me of college. It made me want to be passionate about theater stuff again.
Clare: That’s so cool. I really enjoyed the movie, too, because I’m a huge Tolkien nerd and I saw all the things, like the scenes on the battlefield…They did these interesting illustrations where smoke would turn into those Black Riders on horseback. When a mustard gas attack was done, Tolkien sort of envisioned it as a dragon.
Clare: What was that? Boromir’s great line: “The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.” That is a direct reference, I think, to the chemical warfare that went on during World War One.
Hannah: That’s terrible.
Clare: I want to talk, just a little bit, about one of the major flaws of the movie.
Clare: I don’t want to get too negative, but I think this this could be instructive for other artists, other storytellers. What I thought the movie had a little trouble doing was figuring out what kind of story it was trying to tell.
Hannah: Mmmm, yeah.
Clare: Was it a buddy movie? You like buddy movies.
Clare: Was it a romance? Because there was a lot of stuff in there about how he met and courted and pursued Edith Bratt, and that was a very good angle. Or was it a war movie? What exactly was it? What were they trying to do? They tried to do it all, and maybe didn’t quite pull it off.
Hannah: I think it was chiefly a buddy movie because that was the through-line: these guys. He always had that sort of “Band of Brothers” support behind him. We’re not going to do any spoilers or anything, but there was that time when he thought Edith was going to marry somebody else, which I guess it’s kind of like a trope of a romance thing, you have to lose the person before you can get them again. But in all of the parts of the story there was some sort of brotherhood. At the beginning, he had his little brother…what was his name? Hillary. And in college, he had his four buddies from the TCBS…
Clare: …and in grade school.
Hannah: And in grade school, even, yeah.
Clare: And then college.
Hannah: Then when he was in the war, he had Sam and he was looking for one of his buddies from the TCBS as well. So, I feel like that’s what the story was chiefly about. I definitely wouldn’t say that it was entirely a romance because that was almost kind of a side thing.
Clare: Do you think the movie would have been more successful if they had made it chiefly about the romance?
Hannah: I don’t think so.
Clare: It may have had a possibility because that romance had everything in it that makes for a great romantic comedy.
Clare: Like Dickens. They met when they were orphans. In the same orphanage basically. And, like in any romance, you need an impediment to the romance, right?
Hannah: The first one was the woman, the foster parent or whatever. “Impropriety!”
Clare: She didn’t want them to be pursuing one another while in the same house.
Hannah: Courting in the same house.
Clare: So, there was that impediment, and then later on, Tolkien’s guardian. There’s a family friend…
Hannah: That’s right, the priest!
Clare: A priest who was appointed or volunteered, I guess, to be Tolkien’s guardian, to make sure that he grew up and did everything they were supposed to do, and he took charge of this when he realized that this could get out of hand. He said, “No, I forbid you to court Edith until you come of age.”
And, interestingly enough, Tolkien was obedient to that. But there’s another impediment. Then the other impediment is he’s going off to war. Here’s the clock which lends urgency to the story.
They didn’t bring this up in the movie, but I didn’t know this until I watched an interview with Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collin: that Lily actually did, in fact, get engaged to somebody else while they were on that sort of forced hiatus from their relationship. She became engaged to someone else.
So, you think about all the great romance, all the Jane Austen, maybe some Dickens or certainly Shakespeare. Everyone just gets all mixed up with the wrong people, and then you think it’s over. Then all of a sudden, there they all are, back together.
Hannah: That was one of my favorite scenes, when he went out to the courtyard. He was drunkenly speaking in the language that he made up. He was upset because he’d gotten her wedding invitation.
Clare: Oh, that’s right. So, they did bring that up.
Hannah: Yeah in the movie. The wedding invitation.
Clare: Do you think that too much into why she was willing to go along and pursue and eventually agree to this engagement? I think it was because she was feeling the pressure. She thought, “Well, Tolkien, my true love, is not available and he may never be. He’s going to war. I mean…”
Hannah: Yeah, I’ve got to hammer down my own future.
Clare: Right, right.
Hannah: Women are rational like that, since time immemorial.
Clare: But when that moment happens in a romance, that’s one of the big moments in a rom-com. You know, a Romantic Comedy, book or movie, where you think, “That’s it. They’re not going to get together.”
And then you enter into Act 3 of this romantic comedy, where it’s all going to fall into place.
Hannah: For some reason, I’m thinking of Bridget Jones now. That’s not really your typical [romantic comedy] because they don’t get together until the very, very end of the movie. Right? They hate each other the whole time.
Clare: He announces his engagement to that person, that other lawyer. And at that moment, you can tell that both Mr. Darcy and Bridget Jones realize.
Hannah: Mr. Darcy. He’s always Mr. Darcy. There’s a whole thing where he reads the diary and it says something really horrible about him. Then he leaves, and she’s like, “Oh, no!”
Clare: That’s right. It’s a false ending.
Hannah: She’s chasing him through the snow wearing nothing except her underwear and some boots.
Clare: And a sweater.
Hannah: It’s ridiculous.
Clare: How did we get from Tolkien, the rarefied air of the greatest fantasy author of all time onto Bridget Jones?
Hannah: Oh, you know, the mysteries of us…
Clare: I actually enjoy Bridget Jones. The book is hilarious. Really, really funny and the movie’s very good.
Hannah: What’s the name of the actress? Oh, I can’t remember. I don’t know. But she’s one of my favorites. She’s in Miss Potter.
Hannah: Which is another really good book about the real life of a creative person, actually.
Clare: We’ll have to put something on the screen since neither of us can remember the name of this actress. Yeah, we weren’t planning on talking about that.
Hannah: No, we weren’t.
Clare: Well, back to Tolkien. One of the things that I want to talk about was how beautiful the movie was, how beautiful Tolkien’s act of world-creation was, how beautiful his writing is, and how beauty is just infusing everything.
Clare: The languages are beautiful and the music from the soundtrack of the movie is beautiful. I want to tell you about something that I experienced. Here’s the soundtrack of the movie. This is the third part, The Return of the King, and, like a total nerd, I listen to the soundtrack of Lord of the Rings in the car, and I was listening to it. I came to track eight, “Twilight and Shadow.” The singer is Renee Fleming. I was listening to it…
Hannah: Renee Zellweger! That’s Bridget Jones. Renee Zellweger! Okay, all right. Keep going.
Clare: Yes, ding-ding-ding! Good job, you did it.
All right, Renee Fleming. I was listening to this track of Renee Fleming singing and I’m thinking to myself, “How does she do that?” Her voice is so beautiful.
Hannah: Like a bell.
Clare: And it’s so perfect, because it’s a scene with the elves, and her voice is just this otherworldly sound, and I was literally driving home from a shift at an animal hospital, in my car, listening to this song at a stoplight, listening to it, and it got me. I began to weep.
Clare: And I don’t normally do that.
Clare: I wanted to talk about this, because there’s healing power in Beauty. Do you remember when you were in college and you took a psychology class and you…
Hannah: Philosophy class. Aesthetics?
Clare: No, the other one. The one where you learned about…
Hannah: Oh, at the community college.
Clare: Yeah, the community college, you were taking your psychology class. There’s a certain part of the brain.
Hannah: The hypothalamus?
Clare: The hypothalamus, that under stress, under high stress, prolonged stress, can literally be damaged.
Clare: Permanently damage the hypothalamus. And the hypothalamus–brain damage of that kind–can lead to blunting of the emotional responses.
Hannah: Can I say something?
Clare: Yes, you may.
Hannah: When we were in that class and the teacher, she said, “Prolonged stress can cause the hypothalamus to shrink, to wither, and the damage is permanent.” And pretty much everybody in the class…You know, how in Community College you just kind of zone out a little bit? But everybody in the class kind of…
Clare: Everybody in the class went, “What?”
Hannah: “Yeah, did you just say permanent? You didn’t mean permanent did you?” And she said, “Yeah, the damage is permanent.” And we’re all thinking, “Oh, my gosh.”
Clare: And you’re all thinking, “Stress?”
Clare: I’m stressed.
Clare: “Am I damaging my brain?” Yes, literally, you have brain damage from prolonged and powerful stress, interesting in the context of shell shock. The World War One soldiers would come back from that experience, what they call “shell-shocked” is the term they used. That is post-traumatic stress disorder. That’s what they call it now, but back then they called it shell-shock, and it is, and it was, for real. The reason that I’m mentioning this as relevant to my experience, and the reason why I’m bringing out the fact that beautiful music has the power to make me weep now, whereas several years ago I don’t think it would have…
Hannah: Yeah, I don’t think so, either.
Clare: You remember this Hannah: Many years ago, our family underwent an extraordinary amount of stress.
Hannah: I do remember that.
Clare: I remember it very well, and it was very bad. We had a very bad patch there, and I was stressed and upset and crying all the time. I got to the point where for many years thereafter, I couldn’t cry, even when I should have. And only recently, I’ve noticed things are happening, where…Your professor said it’s permanent?
Clare: I think I’m experiencing some sort of healing power of beauty, because it’s in the context of something beautiful. I wrote down a couple of these things that have happened to me. Listening to this soundtrack.
Clare: I was so excited to talk about this, because of the beauty of this. When I was watching the movie Tolkien…
Clare: At the end of it.
Clare: I began to cry, because I was overwhelmed by just how beautiful the whole story was.
Hannah: You know, I did at some point too. I don’t remember when it was, though. That may have been that scene where he was in the courtyard and his friend came and found him and he’s like, “What’s wrong?” And he’s like, “It’s such a mess, you know, everything’s such a mess.” The Brotherhood.
Clare: I was more towards the end, where he was talking to the mom of his deceased friend. That was so moving.
Hannah: Oh, gosh. I’m about to cry right now.
Clare: I know. I am, too, because that was so beautiful, and also this has happened to me a number of times: sitting, going to church every Sunday, singing a hymn. Singing it, singing the words, and I’ll get too choked up to continue.
Because the sentiment or the tune or something are just so beautiful. Another thing I wrote down: reading the passages. Tolkien got to be a better and better writer the more he wrote. Some of the things that he wrote in Return of the King…
Hannah: Yeah. Gosh. Yeah.
Clare: They are tear-jerking. They really, really are.
Hannah: It’s the Gray Havens that gets to me.
Clare: Oh, yeah.
Hannah: Kind of bittersweet, where it’s sort of a thing where you don’t want to be that person who gets left behind, but the idea of going to Paradise is great.
Clare: Do you know what else I was thinking about, too? Just thinking about this was getting me. Remember the scene–it’s in Return of the King, as well. Where Frodo loses his battle with the Ring. The Ring takes him.
Hannah: Right, yeah.
Clare: “The Ring is mine.” Scary, scary Frodo. He takes the Ring. He wrestles with Gollum. He falls over. He’s hanging there.
Clare: Sam comes and grabs him. And you see what Frodo does. He looks down into the abyss of fire…
Hannah: Thinking, “I could just die right now.”
Clare: And he’s very tempted. “I am worthless. I am a horrible person. I blew everything. I’m going to let go.” And Sam goes, “Don’t you let go. Don’t you dare let go.”
Clare: This is the effect of beauty.
Hannah: Thanks a lot.
Clare: I know. It heals. And it uplifts. And here’s why. Here’s why it’s so powerful. Beauty will save the world, like Dostoyevsky said, I believe it will. We can debate that on another podcast, but what it does–what beauty does–it bypasses all of your intellectualism, all of your rationalism, all of your arguments. All of your facade, all of your attempts at being tough, and it reaches right for the heart. That is the power of beauty, and it hits you all of a sudden. I know that I was not expecting to be driving home, listening to this and then you know, weeping.
Hannah: Oh, I have more to say about that kind of thing in relation to the theater and stuff as well. But maybe we should save that for another podcast.
Clare: The actual podcast when we talk about beauty.
I think that was everything. So, we’ll wrap it up. Anything that we talked about on this episode, we’ll go back and listen to it, obviously, and we’ll try to put titles and links to things. And I actually wrote a review of the Tolkien movie–of Karukoski’s movie–and I will post that on our website and you can read it.
And thanks so much for joining us. We hope you enjoyed that conversation. Do subscribe to the podcast so you get it every week or if you want to subscribe to the video version of it here, on this video channel, feel free to do that as well.
Hannah: Are we doing just audio as well, some places?
Clare: Oh, yeah, we’ll be…we’ll be uploading it as audio.
Hannah: Ah! Okay. I did not know that.
Clare: So people can listen to it as just an audio thing, or if want to watch the video. Yeah, they can do that as well. So anyway, I thank you so much again for joining us. Thanks, Hannah. That was an awesome conversation. I really enjoyed it. All right, good. All right. Good night. Everybody.
Hannah: Goodnight, or good morning. Good 1 a.m.