The trascendental works of famed English scholars J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are known and loved by all. Lesser known are the works of George MacDonald; the precursor of fantasy literature in the 19th Century.
The film, The Fantasy Makers, Tolkien, Lewis, & MacDonald, sets out to outline just what made these authors so legendary in their writings of both high fantasy and Christian theology.
The Fantasy Makers, produced by prominent Christian studio Refuge 31 Films, is an enlightening piece that assesses why we as fantasy lovers appreciate the works of Tolkien and Lewis. MacDonald takes a bit of a back seat during the 90 minute run time, but does add some helpful guidelines for his successors in their own fantasy writings.
Essentially, George MacDonald is the godfather of fantasy literature.
The film takes us through the settings that sparked the works of Lewis’s Narnia books and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien and Lewis were once colleagues. Strolling the grounds of Oxford College together, rambling about faith, their most recent essays, and of course the latest manuscript of their high fantasy adventures.
As a Tolkien and Lewis fan myself, I quite enjoyed getting familiar with the men who shaped my childhood.
Another idea The Fantasy Makers explores is the faith that each man, at one time or another, carried with them while developing these quintessential works. Lewis, also famed for his writings on Christianity and the like, is the main focus here.
Although this concept is not as deeply explored as I would have liked to have seen, the film does a nice job of sharing Lewis’ miraculous exposure to the Gospel by the likes of Tolkien himself. It is a short but meaningful vignette into the lives of these audacious men.
The material presented in The Fantasy Makers, Tolkien, Lewis, & MacDonald may not be as in-depth as a major fan of their work may seek, but it does provide a good surface level of information for any newcomer to Tolkien or Lewis. I was honestly surprised to hear that Lewis’ Space Trilogy got a bit of screen time.
The movie will be available on local PBS affiliate stations starting in December this year.
–By Mason Potter, Film and Culture Editor