Pandaemonium | Chicago Reader

Pandaemonium

Julien Temple (Absolute Beginners, The Filth and the Fury) directed this 2000 BBC chronicle of the intense, uneasy friendship between romantic poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. Energized by the political tumult following the French Revolution, the duo embraced democracy and rural utopia and collaborated on Lyrical Ballads, but Wordsworth's move toward Tory respectability ended the friendship. Temple's Coleridge (Linus Roache) is a gentle, excitable genius who loves nature, questions authority, and uses opium to fuel his work, sort of a precursor to today's pop-music wonders; his Wordsworth (John Hannah) is a whimpering villain who refuses to publish “Kubla Khan.” But the film is less notable for its biographical insights than for its look and mood, its sequences of a drugged-out Coleridge turning his surroundings into poetry reminiscent of the delirious biopics Ken Russell made for the BBC in the 1960s. Much of the film was shot on location, and John Lynch's crisp, sensuous cinematography beautifully evokes paintings from the period. 120 min.

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