The Romantics

The Romantics

2006, History  -    -  Playlist 42 Comments
Ratings: 7.75/10 from 24 users.

The RomanticsThis documentary looks at a group of visionary writers who changed the way we see the world - the Romantics - and examines stories of bloodshed, political upheaval and poetry.

Liberty. Peter Ackroyd reveals how the radical ideas of liberty that inspired the French Revolution opened up a world of possibility for great British writers such as William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, inspiring some of the greatest works of literature in the English language.

Their ideas are the foundations of our modern notions of freedom and their words are performed by David Tennant, Dudley Sutton and David Threlfall.

Nature. Peter Ackroyd summons the ghosts of the Romantics to tell the story of man's escape from the shackles of industry and commerce to the freedom of nature.

As the Industrial Revolution took hold of Britain during the late 18th Century, the Romantics embraced nature in search of sublime experience.

But this was much more than just a walk in the country; it was a groundbreaking endeavour to understand what it means to be human. They forged poetry of radical protest against a dark world that was descending upon Britain.

Eternity. Byron, Keats and Shelley lived short lives, but the radical way they lived them would change the world. At 19, Shelley wrote The Necessity of Atheism - it was banned and burned, but it freed the Romantics from religion.

Through their search for meaning in a world without God, they pioneered the notions of free love, celebrity and secular idolatry that are at the centre of modern Western culture.

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10 years ago


“I couldn't quote you no Dickens, Shelley or Keats
'cause it's all been said before
Make the best out of the bad just laugh it off
You didn't have to come here anyway
So remember, every picture tells a story don't it”

When Rod was God.

So many images, so many stories, so much fearful symmetry.

Finding the right tension between the Apollonian and the Dionysian is as delicate as tightrope walking over an abyss. That’s my monsterization of dear Friedrich. Gods and Monsters, Lambs and Tygers, it’s all the same thing. Make the best out of the bad and just Laugh it off!

You said in an earlier post that after studying Blake there was only one way of reading him? I’m not sure if I agree entirely, his body of work covers so much I feel it would be limiting to have such a singular view but would love to hear what you think? I haven’t studied Blake but I’ve been a fan ever since I was a young boy...

The Crucified One

10 years ago


This doc is not working, it keeps saying an error occurred please try later. Any chance of getting it fixed?
Edit: Oh and huge thanks for a wonderful site.

11 years ago

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

11 years ago

A Wonderful series! Thank you for uploading.
Blake (of which Ackroyd has written an excellent biography) was more of a mystical visionary and symbolist (believing in Platonic and Gnostic concepts, like the demiurgos for example. All of these men were brilliant poets and progressives ahead of their time. Blake was also an artist and engraver (See The William Blake Archive online) It is sad that Keats and Shelley died so young. I didnt know Shelley had a book of Keats' Poems iin his pocket when he drowned. I thought I read somewhere he didn't care too much for his work,, or vice-versa.
Whatever girders of the mind were loosened by the drug I wouldn't call opium with the 'source' of Kubla Khan but to Coleridge's poetic genius and brilliant mind. *Read The Pains of Sleep for a beautifully written description of anguish opium withdrawal. (words being wholly inadequate to describe such torments, not really. The withdrawal is perhaps not the worst of it but the slavery and emotional impact of being without it.) Though the final two lines stand out rather strangely. It's clear he felt 'such punishments' were for his having sinned (used opium). In the end it sapped his genius and ability to write./
(see: STC: A Bondage to Opium by Lefebure) -He is still among my few (along/w Poe and Blake) favorite poets. He was among the most intelligent men of his day. It is difficult to imagine what might have been had he not become an addict.

11 years ago

So which country has more freedom, France, UK OR US? Which is the best to move to?

11 years ago

England has caused more missery suffering and environmental tragedy. Ask what is more important human health or industry?

11 years ago

I'm not a Royalist Brit btw, quite the opposite i hate the fact the Britain still has a monarchy, and dont even live in the country anymore, actually live in France now, I just get a bit annoyed when ppl seem to gloss over what the British did actually do to go through to get the freedom we have now.

11 years ago

Please guys look into the English bill of rights of 1689, before you think that the american bill of rights was something completely new when it was written, in many ways they are much the same, British people always had much more freedom than the French up until the French revolution.

11 years ago

This man's speech impediment almost kills it.

11 years ago

I almost cried... great film

11 years ago

"escape from the shackles of industry and commerce". This is a baazzar phrase to describe revolutions against statist governments, the most notorious constrictors of industry and commerce. How can the TDF copywriter claim that Thomas Paine's opposition to taxes is an escape from the shackles of commerce? The British, or at least TDF, have still not discovered the essence of the American Revolution.

11 years ago

It still surprises me that the British still view the French Revolution as more profound a change than the American.