Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Bright Star

I took Jill to see the film Bright Star yesterday. I generally have concerns about biopics due to how sometimes writers feel the need to pointlessly beef up the plot. One example of that is the BBC drama about the Pre-Raphaelites which for some reason was misnamed as Desperate Romantics (as Germaine Greer pointed out The Romantics, such as Keats, had been dead for some time before the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood evolved).

I need not have worried. Jane Campion’s film about John Keats and his relationship with Fanny Brawne is told in a subtle, gentle way that gets under your skin and pulls at your heart strings. The photography is beautiful and creates a variety of moods throughout the film. The leading actors, Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish, have a fair physical resemblance to John Keats and Fanny Brawne (pictures of whom can be found in Andrew Motion’s excellent biography of Keats) and their portrayal of the young lovers, the uneasy beginning of their relationship and how it was frustrated by the cruelty of circumstance, is believable and deeply moving.

The house where the story is set (although it was not filmed there) is now a museum dedicated to Keats. Keats House in Hampstead is still open during the winter and costumes from the film are, for the moment, on display there.

If you have seen the film and have been inspired to find out more about Keats and Brawne then a good place to start is Motion’s biography of Keats, any edition of the published letters of Keats (they include his letters to Fanny Brawne) and any of the paperback editions of Keats’ poetry – where you will find the sonnet Bright Star! which he wrote especially for Brawne.

[The image above is from the website for the film, is copyright by them and is one of their free wallpapers.]

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