Synopsis by Mark Deming
The troubled friendship and occasional rivalry between two of England's greatest poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, is explored in an unorthodox light in this historical drama from renegade director Julian Temple. As Coleridge (Linus Roache), Wordsworth (John Hannah), and Lord Byron (Guy Lankester) await the news of who will be Great Britain's new poet laureate in 1816, Coleridge finds himself thinking back to 1795, when he and Wordsworth were two struggling writers involved in radical politics. Embracing the ideal of an agrarian society, Coleridge moves to the country, accompanied by his wife Sarah (Samantha Morton) and their infant son. Wordsworth soon follows, joined by his often argumentative sister Dorothy (Emily Woof). However, the two writers discover the hard work of maintaining a farm is not as conducive to their literary endeavors as they might have imagined, despite taking most available opportunities to shock the local bourgeoisie. It's not until Coleridge discovers laudanum (a tincture of alcohol and opium) that he finds the inspiration to create his first masterpiece, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Wordsworth soon finds his friend's fame is far surpassing his own, which brings an uncomfortable jealousy into their relationship; Coleridge, meanwhile, has developed a dangerous fondness for opium, which threatens to drown the creative spirit that it once sparked within him. Pandaemonium received its North American premiere at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival.
friendship, jealousy, poet, rival, alcohol, drugs, farming