… And dangerous to know. Nope, not my fellow clansman Byron, but an earlier bard who enjoy more than his share of drink and women, the Restoration Rake, John Wilmot, better known as the second Earl Rochester. Caught the Libertine the other night, with Johnny Depp and his cheekbones as Rochester, Rosamunde Pike as his wife and the wonderfully pixie-like beauty of Samantha Morton. It was a very odd film, detailing a chunk of Rochester’s brief life (ending with a painful, syphilitic condition at the age of 33) and the Restoration court of Charles II (played by the always wonderful John Malkovich in a clear nod to his earlier film Dangerous Liasons). I’ve always found Rochester to be a fascinating character, so although the film wasn’t brilliant I enjoyed it.
He’s one of those figures who can be both inspiring and damned annoying, moving from elegant poetry showcasing his wit and intellect to a vulgar pornographic (but fun) output and a love of self-destruction. All in all he’d have made a fabulous rock star; goes to show there really isn’t anything new under the sun and the excess of Ozzy or Motley Crue on the road has all be done before. Mel hated the film though – even Johnny’s cheekbones weren’t enough to rescue it for her. There’s a good website on Rochester here.
All my past life is mine no more,The flying hours are gone,Like transitory dreams given o'er,Whose images are kept in storeBy memory alone. What ever is to come is not,How can it then be mine?The present moment's all my lot,And that as fast as it is got,Phyllis, is wholly thine. Then talk not of inconstancy,False hearts, and broken vows,Ii, by miracle, can be,This live-long minute true to thee,'Tis all that heaven allows. All My Past Life, Lord Rochester.