A turbulent relationship played out in turbulent times best describes Julien Temple's "Pandaemonium". A historical costume drama, it focuses on the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.
The two geniuses are reunited at a party thrown by Wordsworth (John Hannah) in anticipation of him becoming poet laureate. Coleridge (Linus Roache), ravaged by his opium addiction, weaves unsteadily around the room culminating in his crashing to the floor. Wordsworth helps him whereupon Coleridge stumbles again and finds himself back in time years earlier when he first met and collaborated with Wordsworth.
Temple dispenses with the gracious chocolate box representation that is typical of this period on film. Instead, the story is set against tremendous political and technological upheaval which mirrors the volatile nature of Coleridge and Wordsworth's relationship. Wonderful cinematography, peppered with contemporary images, coupled with Frank Cottrell Bryce's insightful script combine to give an amazing view of the poets' world.
Temple utilizes stunning visual effects to express the creative forces and drug-addiction that drove Coleridge: a beautiful frost creeps slowly across a window to a recitation of Frost at Midnight, wine glasses soar through the air in slow motion, contrasting with opium-fuelled Coleridge's rapid movement and talking.
Roache is brilliant as Coleridge, Hannah as the cold-hearted Wordsworth is convincing, and Emily Woof is excellent as the spirited, tragic Dorothy Wordsworth.
"Pandaemonium" successfully gets to the heart of the obsessions that drive great writers - and will have you dusting down your old school copy of the "Lyrical Ballads"!
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