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Medieval Institute to host ‘Lord of the Rings’ film festival

| Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Medieval Institute at Notre Dame will celebrate medieval culture and the work of author J.R.R. Tolkien with a special screening of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, co-sponsored by the Meg and John P. Brogan Endowment for Classic Cinema.

The festival begins Thursday with an introduction to the films by graduate student Maj-Britt Frenze at 7 p.m., followed by a showing of the trilogy’s first movie, “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The screening will continue Friday with its second film, “The Two Towers,” at 7 p.m. The final installment of the trilogy, “The Return of the King,” will be shown Sunday at 3:30 p.m. All screenings will take place in the Browning Cinema located in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC).

Frenze, a forth-year student in the Ph.D. program for Medieval Studies, said the film festival grew out of an effort to promote the Medieval Institute’s “Lord of the Rings” undergraduate reading group. The reading group, Frenze said, seeks to educate students about Tolkien’s work and analyze his use of medieval culture in his writing.

Linda Major, director of undergraduate studies at the Medieval Institute, said Tolkien’s work was heavily influenced by medieval customs and lore.

“Tolkien was a medievalist,” Major said.

In the past, Major said the Medieval Institute has sponsored screenings of a number of other films influenced by the medieval period, such as the “Monty Python” movies, “Robin Hood” and “The Sword and the Stone.”

Such films allow people to access medieval culture through modern day cinema, Major said.

Through the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy in particular, Major said, the Medieval Institute aims to use modern cinema to introduce students to Tolkien’s writing, which blends medieval culture and fantasy.

“We’re exposing the medieval roots of Tolkien’s Middle Earth,” Frenze said.

A professor of Medieval English at Oxford, Tolkien’s acute knowledge of medieval history lent itself to a number of the literary elements in the “Lord of the Rings,” Frenze said.

“Tolkien took many themes from [medieval] texts, such as dragons, riddles and many of the names of his characters,” Frenze said.

Frenze said Tolkien’s work has had a lasting influence on fantasy writing and cinema. The genre owes a majority of its success to Tolkien and other prominent authors such as C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, she added.

“Tolkien was pivotal in making fantasy as popular as it is,” Frenze said.

The Medieval Institute hopes the festival will help spread appreciation of Tolkien’s enduring impact upon the genre, Frenze said.

The Medieval Institute is offering two free tickets per individual for each film. Students may reserve tickets through the organization’s website and collect their tickets at the DPAC box office. Reservations must be made by Wednesday. Additional tickets may be purchased through the DPAC box office.

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About Mary Steurer

Mary is a senior sociology major and journalism minor from St. Louis. An aspiring religion reporter, Mary has spent the last year covering conversations about the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis at Notre Dame.

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