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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Libertine and John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

It has been a long while since I mentioned John Wilmot, earl of Rochester. The notoriously elusive film, The Libertine, has come and gone with hardly any fanfare. Not even the Restoration professors I knew, keen to see a depiction of he life of Rochester on the big screen (and starring Johnny Depp, no less!), confessed that by the time it finally reached Canada, they no longer cared enough to see it.

I thought my readers would be interested to take a glimpse at the production. First, a reminder: John Wilmot has been put forward by a very small circle of critics as the namesake of Mr Rochester. There are some intriguing connections between the two men, however, it is clear that Wilmot is not a model for Mr Rochester; their relationship is more problematic than that. Rochester was the consumate rake. He wrote terrible poetry- despite what the film says about his claims to genius. I refer you to this old post where I discuss some of the connections between Wilmot and Mr Rochester in more depth.

Secondly, I must warn my readers that while the first clip is for general viewing, the second- which is the prologue of the film- contains explicitly sexual language which might not be suitable for younger readers.

Thirdly, the one element of Rochester's life absent from any of these clips is his famous death-bed conversion. In Charlotte's time, he was celebrated for this reformation- which of all things, probably aligns him with Mr Rochester most. From these clips you might get the idea that he was a misunderstood Casanova-type, rebel without a cause, etc, etc... Believe what he says- there's nothing likable about him.

The Trailer:


The Prologue:

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Actually, you should talk to Dr. McNeil about it. He didn't particularly like it (he thought that they should have let Rochester have more fun, rather than be all tortured about everything, which he wasn't), but he'll get into a good debate about you with it!