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 Topic: "The Libertine"

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Joined: 19 Jul 2006
Posts: 24

Posted: 19 Jul 2006, 11:18 pm    Post subject: "The Libertine" Reply with quote

"The Libertine" starring Johnny Depp just became available at Blockbuster, so I rented it. I expected it to be an engaging film since it stars Depp and John Malkovich and claims to tell the story of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, the most famous of the libertines in England during the 1600s. I even expected to learn something.

I was profoundly disappointed. The best thing I can say about the film is that the period sets and costumes gave a good sense of what England must have been like during the Restoration. The story, however, slams Rochester without appreciating what he was reacting to or what he accomplished and ignores what little history I know about the man.

The worst part of the film for me was the fact that it reduces Wilmot's life to a simplistic morality tale painted in subtle shades of black and white (longsuffering wife=good, libertine husband=bad). All Wilmot's relationships with men and women are exploitative, and he performs his notorious play Sodom: The Quintessence of Debauchery on the stage before King Charles II and his French ambassador guest (the article about Wilmot on this web site shows that the play was never performed) simply to embarrass the king as much as is humanly possible. The incessantly drunken Wilmot declines slowly and disgustingly, apparently of syphilis, and dies a puss-covered mess.

The film leads to a simple conclusion: if you pursue your pleasures, you can't experience real human relationships and shouldn't expect anyone to give a damn when you die the gruesome death you deserve. I can't decide if that's more Focus on the Family or Fred Phelps, but it's a trashy thing to do with Wilmot's biography and it's surprising that Depp and Malkovich had anything to do with it.

Does anyone have a different impression of the film?
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