Tolkien – This is a man’s world ?

On the occasion of the relase of Tolkien directed by Dome Karukoski,
which displays the group of friends of Lord of the Rings‘ author,
decoding of boys’ clubs‘ culture in cinema.

By Garance Lunven

Reading time 5 min.



Who doesn’t take a guilty pleasure in watching rich people’s kids revelling in debauchery while they are complaining about masses? Even though Dome Karukoski’s feature film is a monotonous biopic of the genius author of the Lord of the Rings, the angle chosen by the Finn director is original. The film deals with the genuine camaraderie which bonds Tolkien and his friends with the atmosphere of British colleges. Together, they are the TCBS (Tea Club, Barrovian Society) and boost their ego thanks to long speeches about poetry, music and literature. At this point, everything’s fine, except that a woman entering the club disturbs their intellectual debates. Because TCBS’ members treat Edith (played by Lilly Collins) as an ignorant lady and they look shocked when she tells them about her passion for Wagner’s operas. We retain the golden rule of every boys’ club: underestimating the intellectual abilities of female gender.

1 . The Riot Club (2014)
This feature film directed by Lone Scherfig (Italian for Beginners, Un jour) makes an acerbic portrait of daddy’s boys studying in prestigious British colleges, rather in order to maintain a family legacy and financial capital than for their grades. In Oxford, they formed a fictional elite club called the Riot Club. Inspired from the real Bullingdon club, his members are known for their destructive behaviours. Orgies, cocaïne, and champain, this group is so exclusive that it takes a lot of tests to get in. The compensation? Once you got in the suadron, you can openly despise commoners and harass students. In short, the film depicts a phallocracy almost too fantasized that we like to hate.

2 . The Wolf of Wall Street (2014)
It’s almost the same story for Scorsese’s film, but version US traders and stock exchange in the 80’s. Beyond the traditional drugs/sex/booze cocktail, Jordan Belfort’s team (interpreted by Leonardo DiCaprio) creates the deal of the century. Despite a sense of ethics really questionable, Jordan care about his alpha males’ team… as long as they brings him cash. Apart from this critical dimension towards the main character and the finance turning into a playground, we can’t help but pointing out Scorsese’s indulgent look when it comes to this boys’ club‘s debauchery. Becaue can we see something else than a prepubescent fantasy in the scene where Jordan takes a line of coke on a call-girl’s butt?

3 . Dead Poets’ society (1989)
On  ligther tone, Dead Poets’ society directed by Peter Weir presents an etirely white male casting. Even though the main message of the film is to praise free thought, it doesn’t fill the criteria of Bechdel’s test… Apart from this issue of feminine under representation, that can be understood because the educative system wasn’t mixed back to these days, the boys’ club who unites all the pupils of Welton’s academy leads to true steretoypes of toxic masculinity. Poetry is a tool to “woo” women, who are only interchangeable muses. By the way, during a secret meeting, one of the boys offers to welcome women to the academy. Not to reach equality, but rather to allow young boys to have sexual relationships with them…

4 . 
Orange Mécanique (1971) The Clockwork Orange
In this Stanley Kubrick masterpiece, a blink is enought to captivate the esthetical ultimate violence of the Droogs. Th gang lives trought the sick obssession of the rape as th graphic scene at the writer F.Alexander, whom is wife is sexually harrased. Plenty of cases were polemical because some of gangs were doing bad things after repeated the line of the ClockWork Orange. Even if the goal of the movie is to denounce the violence of its characters and tthe one of the State. It questionned the notion of boys’club in movies. Are they a simple reflection of our society or the perpetual vision of the rape culture represented in cinema ?

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