I watched one of the latest acquisitions in my DVD collection, POSSESSION. It is a 2002 movie I hadn’t had the occasion to see when it was released nor managed to see on Tv. So I decided to buy the DVD after reading about the movie in one of the text-books I use at school. Based on A.S. Byatt's 1990 novel of the same name, and filmed on wonderful locations in the U.K., the romantic mystery tracks a pair of literary scholars who unearth the amorous secret of two Victorian poets - only to find themselves falling under a passionate spell. Maud Bailey( Gwyneth Paltrow), a brilliant English academic given to doing things by the book, is researching the life and work of poet Christabel La Motte (Jennifer Ehle). Roland Michell (Aaron Ekhart) is an upstart American scholar in London on a fellowship to study the great Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam), now best-known for a collection of rapturous, late-life poems dedicated to his wife. When Maud and Roland discover a cache of love letters that appear to be from Ash to La Motte, they follow a trail of clues across England to the Continent, echoing the journey of the impassioned couple over a century earlier.
In this way Byatt measures the distance between a world in which some notion of absolute value still prevailed and the cultural relativism of today, in which notions of what is profound and what is superficial have become hopelessly entangled. In her ambitious novel Byatt invents an entire body of Victorian poetry in the style of the two poets for her modern academics to interpret, which are like false documents of a simulated history
The story of the two poets, inspired to the love story between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, is set in the victorian Age. It was a multifaceted time of transition which in many ways paved the way for the structure of contemporary society, announcing many of the changes (such as the predominance of city life, the decline of religion and traditional morality, the emancipation of women, the prevalence of mechanical production and the advent of consumer society) that have become commonplace features of the modern Western world view.
I'll leave you with the trailer of the film. Pay attention to the final lines ... they are really beautiful and very romantic. Just like the film!