“A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War” – Film Screening – Episode 1

Event start date

August 8, 2022

Come join The Institute on Religion and Democracy as it unveils Episode 1 of Dr. Joseph Loconte’s new film series, “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War” on August 8 at 6:30 PM ET. Snacks and opportunities to socialize will be made available beginning at 6:00 PM ET. Price of admission is $10, and can be purchased at this link.

Lewis and Tolkien survived the mechanized slaughter of the First World War, the most destructive war in human history up to that time. Yet when they returned home, they soon discovered that their world had changed profoundly. Their traditions, beliefs, ideals—the permanent things foundational to Western Civilization—were under assault. Oxford University, where both men took up their posts as instructors in English literature, was not immune to the crisis enveloping Europe. The First World War created a storm of disillusionment: a mood of cynicism about human freedom, democratic values, free-market capitalism, and traditional religion. A raft of ideologies rushed in to fill the void: communism, fascism, eugenics, scientism, modernism, and totalitarianism.

Lewis and Tolkien were determined to fight back. In the mid-1930s, as a “gathering storm” of evil descended upon the European continent, they rededicated themselves to their scholarly and literary pursuits. “Well, Tollers,” Lewis announced to Tolkien. “If they won’t write the kinds of books we want to read, we shall have to write them ourselves.” They did precisely that, to magnificent effect: works such as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Screwtape Letters, The Space Trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mere Christianity. Against the conventions of their day and at a moment of profound cultural crisis, Lewis and Tolkien produced a body of epic and imaginative literature that continues to nourish the moral imagination of generations of readers.

The creative friendship between Lewis and Tolkien offers an enduring and inspiring model of cultural leadership. We, too, face a cultural crisis: fresh assaults on the political, moral, and religious ideals that shaped Western Civilization and made possible the American experiment in ordered freedom. By exploring, with great care and sensitivity, the lives and achievements of Lewis and Tolkien, our film series will reveal how their shared moral vision—lived out in their personal and professional lives—created a new beachhead for “the permanent things” amid a deeply hostile culture.

Dr. Loconte is the screen writer and presenter of the documentary film series, “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War,” which tells the story of how the crucible of war shaped the lives and literary imagination of two remarkable authors and friends, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The film, which is based on Dr. Loconte’s New York Times bestselling book, explores how Lewis and Tolkien stepped up at a crisis moment in history and used their powers of imagination to help turn back the darkest forces of their age. Episode 1 of the series, “Guns and Good Company,” examines the early lives of these two authors and their experience as soldiers on the Western Front during the First World War. The trailer for the film series can be found here.

Dr. Loconte is a Senior Fellow at the Institute on Religion and Democracy and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Grove City College.