TRIGGER WARNING: Rape culture & misogynist language.
One of my favorite movies is the 2004 historical (but heavily fictionalized) drama film The Libertine. As a history nerd and a feminist, I know of no other movie that combines these two elements in such a provoking, satisfying manner.
This feat is particularly impressive because The Libertine does not take place in a time period we usually associate with feminism – on the contrary, the film is set in Restoration England (that means roughly 1660-1688), well before women began appropriating Enlightenment notions about the right of man to argue in defense of their own gender. Yet the film does not approach feminism through distortion, but rather faces head on the conditions women experienced in this context, all while simultaneously exploring what it might be like for an ambitious, independently spirited woman to try to carve out a space of her own from within the patriarchy.
Yet the main protagonist of the film is not a woman, but a man – John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester, a historical figure here portrayed and reimagined by Johnny Depp. Continue reading