VERSEDAY #4: Movies about Poets

Howl Poster

VERSEDAYBUTTON copyIt’s VerseDay again, and another installment of our yearlong celebration of verse. This week, in honor of Kill Your Darlings, an Allen Ginsberg biopic starring Daniel Radcliffe, that debuted at Sundance recently, I thought I’d take note of a few other films that celebrate (and I use that term loosely) the true lives of poets.

Another Allen Ginsberg film, this one starring James Franco, is Howl. I have no idea why I haven’t seen this film. Ginsberg? James Franco? What the hell? Am I being punked?

Sylvia, starring Gwyneth Paltrow is of course about Sylvia Plath and her fraught relationship with another poet, Ted Hughes. Given that we all know how this story turns out, I’m not sure this is one I want to see. Plath’s poetry is depressing enough.

The Raven Poster

1978 film Stevie, starring Glenda Jackson, depicts the emotionally disturbed life of English Poet Stevie Smith.

2012’s The Raven and 2008’s Poe: The Last Days of the Raven both portray Edgar Allan Poe, albeit one with more historical veracity than the other.

Tom & Viv (1994) lays bare the emotionally disastrous but poetically successful marriage of T.S Elliot to Vivienne Haigh-Wood.

Shakespeare in Love PosterTotal Eclipse, starring a very young Leonardo DiCaprio exposes the 19th Century French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine.

Regeneration (1997) speculates about a meeting between Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.

Finally, last but certainly not least, several films explore the life of William Shakespeare. A recent one, Anonymous (2011), paints him in a rather negative light, while one of my all-time favorites, Shakespeare in Love (1998), takes great and fanciful liberties with what is known about the Bard. Still makes me swoon every time though. Sigh.

2 thoughts on “VERSEDAY #4: Movies about Poets

  1. I liked Sylvia. Yes it is depressing, but not shocking as we know the end. Gwyneth does a good job. Howl is also very good. A couple I haven’t seen yet but will keep an eye out for. A great list!

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