Tolkien expert at University of Oklahoma reflects on films, books

University of Oklahoma professor Janet Croft began reading J.R.R. Tolkien's books when she was 7 and has done extensive research on the author and his work.
BY MATT PATTERSON Modified: December 19, 2012 at 8:27 pm •  Published: December 20, 2012

And Tolkien's work is as popular as ever, in print and on film. The fantasy genre has become a go-to source of escape for teenagers around the world.

“Fantasy speaks to something inside of us,” Croft said. “There's a quote from one of my favorite fantasy authors that says humans need fantasy to be human. It helps us understand bigger, deeper things more than a straightforward story does.”

Croft said Peter Jackson's films have been visually stunning but don't always capture the true spirit of Tolkien's work.

“Jackson is a horror director,” she said. “He likes to show things before they should be shown. He telegraphs things. In the current movie, the spiders attack Radagast's house, but in the books, we don't see them until what should be the second movie of this trilogy. Now they won't be much of a surprise.”

Croft will present a discussion in Albuquerque about Tolkien's Christmas letters and has explored the idea of helping to teach a Tolkien class at OU. She also has introduced her daughter to the books. It's safe to say reading his work and the works of others is her favorite pastime.

“The research is something I really enjoy,” she said. “That can lead you in so many directions, and you learn so much in the process.”