Synopsis: Poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Linus Roache) and William Wordsworth (John Hannah) form a friendship and creative partnership after becoming involved in revolutionary activities inspired by events in France at the end of the 18th century. Encouraged by Wordsworth's sister Dorothy (Emily Woof), they seek inspiration from nature, and each other, for a new kind of poetry. … Continue reading Pandaemonium (2000)
Synopsis: Approaching her retirement, prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn (Anne-Marie Duff) aspires to settle down with her diplomat husband Tito Arias (Con O'Neill) in his home country of Panama. Tito has used Margot's money to fund several unsuccessful coups, so she must keep dancing. Luckily, the young Russian maverick, Rudolph Nureyev (Michiel Huisman) revives her enthusiasm … Continue reading Women We Loved: Margot (BBC Four, 2009)
Synopsis: After undergoing life-threatening surgery, singer and actress Gracie Fields (Jane Horrocks) is preparing to leave Britain to convalesce in Capri with her family and film director Monty Banks (Tom Hollander). Her plans are interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, and the request that she perform as part of the war effort. When she marries Italian Monty, … Continue reading Women We Loved: Gracie! (BBC Four, 2009)
If one is not permitted to express anger or even to recognize it within oneself, one is, by simple extension, refused both power and control. (Carolyn Heilbrun, 1989) It feels like the right time for a biographical portrait of Nina Simone, virtuoso pianist, singer and activist. Civil rights, seemingly off the agenda for so long, have … Continue reading What Happened, Miss Simone? (Liz Garbus, 2015)
Amy, like its predecessor Senna (2010) is a biographical documentary woven from fragments of a life - a mosaic of images illustrating recollections from friends and family delivered in voiceover not as talking heads, a stylistic decision that presumably is intended to distinguish these films from less artful documentaries. The story told here is, for the most … Continue reading Amy (Asif Kapadia, 2015)
Synopsis: Enid Blyton (Helena Bonham Carter) is a successful and prolific children's author, married to publisher Hugh Pollock (Matthew Macfadyen), and mother to two daughters. Just before the second world war breaks out, her marriage starts to fail, as Hugh drinks heavily and she devotes more and more time to her writing and her 'friends' … Continue reading Women We Loved: Enid (BBC Four, 2009)
Full disclosure - this post was inspired by a film that I haven't yet watched. I'm sure that when I do finally see Asif Kapadia's biographical documentary (2015), I will find that it lives up to the hype. After all, his careful dissection of Ayrton Senna beautifully wove together fragments of a career to build … Continue reading What’s in a name?
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this season, first broadcast on BBC Four in the winter of 2009. It might seem a strange preoccupation: why would anyone be so fascinated by a series of relatively obscure, low-budget docudramas first shown on British TV several years ago? It was the season's title that immediately … Continue reading The Women We Loved Season: Introduction
"The unexamined life is not worth living." If Socrates is right about this (and far be it for me to disagree with him), he has provided the greatest possible justification for the art of biography. Biography, of course, is all about the examination of lives. It is the art of stitching together the facts of … Continue reading Why Real Lives on Screen?