Why do we create fantasy worlds?
The Lord of the Rings is one of the most successful movies and books ever. It's been 20 years since the Lord of The Rings movies were released - so what makes them so appealing? Why do we love the fantasy genre? A real Tolkien fan unpacks their significance.
Our guest: Luke Isham. Luke works as the pastor of St Kilda and Balaclava Presbyterian Church in Melbourne’s inner south east. Luke is a huge fan of the writings of JRR Tolkien - the author of the Hobbit and the classic The Lord of The Rings trilogy.
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
Luke, you’re a massive Tolkien fan, and didn’t that influence the way you conducted your wedding?
Now to kick off Bigger Questions we like to ask some smaller questions - just to get us thinking. Today we’re asking Luke Isham why we create fantasy worlds? So Luke for our smaller question, I’m going to see how much you know about the Lord of the Rings movie series.
Popularity of Lord of the Rings and fantasy
So it’s been some 20 years since the release of the first of the Lord of the Rings movies - the Fellowship of the Ring on 19th December 2001 - it’s been regarded as the greatest and most influential film series ever made - the three films grossed nearly $3billion the books have sold over 150 million copies - what makes the Lord of the Rings so popular?
What did you make of the film adaptations of the books?
Is it significant that some characters like Tom Bombadil, who features in the books, is missing entirely in the movie? Sorry for the spoiler alert, but the films have been out for a while.
Reflections on what fantasy genre teaches us
JRR Tolkien had Christian convictions and was committed to the Bible - did that influence what he wrote at all?
But it’s not a straight allegory is it - for different characters seem to resemble the ‘Christ’ character - for example there are elements of Frodo’s quest which resonate with Jesus’ life, death and crucifixion, Gandalf is resurrected and Aragorn is crowned king - was this deliberate?
The Bible’s answer: Humans are sub-creators
On the question website Quora, someone asked the question: Is the Bible technically a fantasy book with some historic events thrown in? How do you react to that? Is the Bible just another fantasy novel?
In the first book of the Bible, in Genesis after God had created a man, we hear the narrator describe one of the tasks for this man, in Genesis 2:19-20,
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
What is the significance of this - of the man naming animals?
What does this reveal about our humanity?
So Luke, what persuaded you that faith in God wasn’t another myth or just a fantasy?
Does this make any difference to you at all?
The Big Question
So Luke, why do we create fantasy worlds?