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God Rot Tunbridge Wells! (1985)

| Biography, Drama, Music | TV Movie
Shortly before death, George Fredrick Handel (1685-1759), old, blind, portly, sometimes raging and usually reflective, narrates a look back over his life. As he tells his story, his music ... See full summary »


Tony Palmer (as Mr Tony Palmer)


John Osborne

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Trevor Howard ... Georg Friedrich Handel
Dave Griffiths Dave Griffiths ... Middle-aged Handel
Christopher Bramwell Christopher Bramwell ... Young Handel
Ranald Neilson Ranald Neilson ... The Boy Handel
Tracey Spence Tracey Spence ... Mary Granville
Anne Downie Anne Downie ... Vittoria Turquini
Simon Donald ... Prince Ruspoll
Peter Stanger Peter Stanger ... Domenico Scarlatti
Beth Robens Beth Robens ... Handel's Mother
Mitzi Mueller Mitzi Mueller ... Francesca Cuzzoni
Elizabeth Lax Elizabeth Lax ... The Second Soprano
Chris Young Chris Young ... Buxtehude
Caroline Woolley Caroline Woolley ... Marie Sallé
Shona Drummond Shona Drummond ... The Handmaiden
Isabella Connell Isabella Connell ... The Princess of Wales


Shortly before death, George Fredrick Handel (1685-1759), old, blind, portly, sometimes raging and usually reflective, narrates a look back over his life. As he tells his story, his music plays as background or is performed on screen. As a youth, he is Buck, a prodigy, attractive to women and to patrons. He travels from Halle to Italy then to London, where he finds himself completely at home. He composes constantly. He pleases princes and dukes; he displeases prelates and critics. He's in court to defend his copyright. He makes and loses money; he engenders a cat fight between two divas. At the end of his life, he observes that he helped the English with their religion. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Plot Keywords:

composer | See All (1) »


Biography | Drama | Music





Filming Locations:

Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?


Georg Friedrich Handel: I do not think that I have been truly corruptible. I may have, yes, have been... pagan ...in spirit, but I have always known there is more sincerity in religion than politics. More truth also.
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits are written as if they were a comment on the action, and they paraphrase Shakespeare: "Flatbroke Films presents A Tragic Historical Comedy, or A Comic historical Tragedy Or What You Will". The names of the actors and creative staff are all written with a "Mr." or "Mrs." preceding the name, just as they would have been in the eighteenth century. See more »


Tha Passacaglia (Keyboard Suite No. 7)
Music by George Frideric Handel (as G.F. Händel)
Performed by Andrei Gavrilov
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User Reviews

Sheer delight - both aurally and visually!
15 January 2013 | by donita51See all my reviews

This is a film I go back to every couple of years, remembering how I enjoyed it the last time, and every (re)viewing reinforces my feeling that it is indeed a treat, a delight, a gem.

First, of course, we have the Music. Handel wrote some of the most magnificent "tunes" (as a character calls them in the film) in Western culture and this music is clearly the centerpiece of the film. Although not played on original instruments, it still sounds fantastic and the singing is divine (just watch and listen to young Emma Kirkby in "But Who May Abide" from Messiah - music to die for!)

Secondly, there is the presence (perhaps omnipresence) of Trevor Howard, playing the final moments of Handel as if feeling his own death approaching (he died just two short years later). What charisma this actor had, what magnificent voice, what a mesmerizing performer. Also, it does not bother a bit that Christopher Bramwell plays young Handel in a virtual tongue-in-cheek manner. This only underlines the levity and insouciance of the young composer about to conquer the world.

So what if John Osborne's script is more a reflection of himself than of Handel, as a reviewer previously noted? This is not a filmed biography, but an entertainment and as such, it has few peers. Still, I believe that Handel's love for England was real as indeed there is much to love and admire in that country.

The visual aspects of the film are beautifully done - the costumes, the long shots of cities and palaces, the (probably true) behaviour off and on stage in the 18th century. It all rings true.

So, a witty, literate and well-researched script, sublime music wonderfully performed, great acting and beautiful visuals. What else do you need in a film?

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