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by Robert McCourt | september 17 , 2001


Caught amidst the explosive atmosphere of the French revolution the famous poets Samuel T. Coleridge and William Wordsworth seek to revert to an imagined rural ideal. Drunk on hallucinogenic apple cider Pandaemonium initially appears to be an early vision of Lewis Carol's mad hatter's tea party. Yet these early days of hedonistic pleasure are soon mired by rivalry jealousy and envy, as Wordsworth (John Hannah) feels increasingly overshadowed by the enigmatic, and passionate Coleridge (Linus Roache). Immersed in a haze of opium Coleridge uses the drug to unlock his creative talent, bringing to life vivid images and dreams of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan. Yet his addiction soon becomes a dangerous self-destructing vice, that destroys both himself and Wordsworths sister Dorothy (Emily Woof)

Director Julien Temples plays heavily on the idea of the poets being the pop stars of their day, - Lennon and McCartney type characters, surrounded by fainting and hysterical female fans. Coleridge and Wordsworth are seen as radical forward thinking revolutionaries championing the causes of liberty, and peace, with considerations for feminism. Not so worried about historical consistency the film is shot in a contemporary style which aims to transform the often dreary poetry of the classroom into awe inspiring drama. Coleridge is therefore seen as a heroic visionary, and recitals of his poetry are accompanied with stirring music and stunning visuals. However references to the modern world, intended to reinforce the meanings of the ancient Mariner appear bizarre and out of place, and add little to the film.

Brilliant cinematography combined with a lose story of friendship, love and betrayal creates a fairly compelling and absorbing film.

Optimum Releasing/BBC Films Present
Directed by Julien Temple
Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Produced by Nick O'Hagan
Starring John Hannah, Linus Roache, Samantha Morton, and Emily Woof

Certificate 15
Ruunning Time - 119 Minutes
Release date - September 14th 2001

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