The Libertine

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German title The Libertine
Original title The Libertine
Country of production United Kingdom
original language English
Publishing year 2004
length 114 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Laurence Dunmore
script Stephen Jeffreys
music Michael Nyman
camera Alexander Melman
cut Jill Bilcock

The Libertine is a 2004 British film about the life of British free spirit and writer John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, and the debut film by director Laurence Dunmore . The film is based on the play of the same name by Stephen Jeffreys, which premiered in 1994. John Malkovich, one of the producers of the film, took on the role of King Charles II.

Born in 1647, Wilmot died at the age of 33, probably from the consequences of his dissolute lifestyle.


John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, lived a decadent and scandalous life in 17th century London. Because of his improper conduct at the court of King Charles II, he was exiled to his country estate for a year. After three months, however, the King calls Rochester back to London. Rochester, who is always bored in the country, enjoys returning with his fun-loving friends (Merry Gang). On a trip to the theater with friends, a new, young actress named Elizabeth Barry catches his attention. He is the only one who recognizes the uncut diamond in her. Therefore, he offers the unsuccessful stage debutante to make her the most sought-after actress in all of London. Wilmot makes a bet with one of his friends. To Rochester's surprise, Elizabeth Barry turns out to be a woman of her own will, wittiness and self-confidence who does not think about obeying his orders without resistance. Lord Rochester succumbs to her charms and a passionate affair begins, in the course of which the cynical lord falls seriously in love with his protégé. Wilmot pisses off his loving wife, Elizabeth Malet, who has accompanied him to London so that she retires to the couple's country estate.

In the meantime, King Charles asks John to make him the subject of a play that will be premiered on the inaugural visit of the new French ambassador. He wants to prove to the French that the English stage has more to offer than the French. Rochester's play, "A Satyr on Charles II." is a kind of pornographic parody of the king, so the author falls from grace. To avoid arrest, Rochester escapes with the help of his friend Billy Downs and goes into hiding in London. The king, beside himself with anger because he was made into a joke in front of the French ambassador and all of London, lets Rochester search. It took six months for his followers to track down the count. The King himself went to Rochester's quarters. He finds a terminally ill man, whose arrogance is unbroken, and decides to leave the man to his fate, which will lead to death. The syphilis lord returns to the country to his wife.

Finally, he travels to London one last time to deliver a speech at the Houses of Parliament that will secure much-needed support for the king. This is followed by a last visit to Elizabeth Barry, who rejects him and his love, whereupon a servant brings his master to die on his country estate to his loving wife.


The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 16, 2004. He grossed 10,852,064 US dollars worldwide (as of 2012).

The DVD was released on November 14, 2008 in Germany.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The Libertine at, accessed on 30 October 2012