© 2019 by Hugh Levick

THE TRIAL OF

WILLIAM BLAKE

GENRE: Period Thriller

LOGLINE: This movie bears witness to Blake's pursuit of truth and beauty overcoming injustice, fear and oppression. 

 

Year 1800.

Down on his luck and realizing himself a target of the repressive government, Blake accepts an offer for employment in Sussex. Squire William Hayley, a down-at-the-heels poetaster, hires Blake to do printing for Hayley's biographical endeavors.

British Prime Minister, William Pitt, the Younger, for fear of the American and French Revolutions leaking into England, is suppressing dissidence all over the land. Persecutions, limiting of civil liberties, censored press, and a manipulative, propaganda machine, are in force to keep people patriotic by ratcheting up the threat of a French invasion. (Not unlike the Bush foreign/domestic policies.)

All Blake wants to do is to write the poem, which will become THE FOUR ZOAS. But Hayley, blind to how jealous he is of his 'servant's ´talent, is on Blake's case all the time about illustrating meaningless drivel.

At the same time Blake's wife, Catherine, is doubly terrified: one that her husband's renewed creativity will, by alienating Hayley, ruin them even further financially; two, that her husband's renewed creativity will send him into the arms of another woman, as it did ten years earlier when he was writing THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL and screwing Mary Wollstonecraft.

Then there is John Milton, who, dead for over 100 years, keeps visiting Blake with injunctions to ignore all but his vocation as visionary poet.

In 1803 Blake gets into a shoving match with a soldier billeted in Felpham. The soldier brings Blake to trial on charges of treason. The judge, Lord Richmond, hoping to be reinstated in the House of Lords, wants to offer Blake's head on a platter to Pitt.

A jury of the people resists tampering and threats to acquit Blake, who returns to London where he will write his great poem, MILTON.

The 1803 trial brackets the screenplay, which flashes back to the stories which begin in 1800 in London.

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