Film: 2009: October: "Bright Star"

John Keat's "Bright Star" comes to the screen

London 1818:  a secret love affair begins between 23 year old English poet, John Keats, and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, an outspoken student of fashion. This unlikely pair started at odds; he thinking her a stylish minx, she unimpressed by literature in general. It was the illness of Keats’s younger brother that drew them together. Keats was touched by Fanny’s efforts to help and agreed to teach her poetry. By the time Fanny’s alarmed mother and Keats’s best friend Brown realised their attachment, the relationship had an unstoppable momentum. Intensely and helplessly absorbed in each other, the young lovers were swept into powerful new sensations, “I have the feeling as if I were dissolving”, Keats wrote to her. Together they rode a wave of romantic obsession that deepened as their troubles mounted. Only Keats’s illness proved insurmountable.

Photo above: Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne with Edie Martin as her sister Toots in Jane Campion's 'Bright Star'

John Keats, the romantic poet, wrote the love poem Bright Star for his 18 year-old next door neighbour Fanny Brawne. This is the story of their first love.

"Bright Star" Movie Trailer

Watch the Official "Bright Star" movie trailer from Warner Brs. Pictures through Hulu. Click on the white triangle to start the movie. In this film clip, Brown and Keats Fight.

A Jane Campion Film
Written and directed by Jane Campion
Produced by Jan Chapman and Caroline Hewitt

Starring Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, Paul Schneider, Kerry Fox

Run time: 119 mins

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some sensuality, brief language and incidental smoking.

Opens in Las Vegas, Nevada; Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico on Oct. 2; Tucson, Arizona on Oct. 23, 2009.

"Bright Star" Director's Notes

By Jane Campion, writer and director

The film is in itself a kind of ballad, like Keats’s 'Eve of St Agnes' – it is a story about the love affair of Fanny Brawne and John Keats.  The story progresses in verses charting their increasing involvement and attachment as well as their deepening difficulties.

The storytelling’s restraint mimics Fanny’s own life restraint, the passive waiting fate of any young woman of her time: the life amongst the family, her obsession with sewing, the restrictions on her activities and her chaperoned outings.  Against all these restraints, her determined passion for John Keats expressed through the notes she left under his pillow or by presenting herself at his window when he was sick, seem all the more remarkable.

The most important quality of this story was to get across the intimacy of the characters to the viewer.  Rehearsal was very important for this as it helped the actors to establish a subtle Being.  Both Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish have a particular delicious charisma which, through the rehearsal period, they gave their characters claim to.  The more real they are, the more the mystery of their unique personalities is allowed to fascinate us, capturing our imagination and our hearts.

I see the world of Keats and Fanny as light filled, literally leaking light, and even though the film ends with Keats’s death, the lamp lit by his poetic genius and unique spirit cannot be extinguished.  It is Bright Star’s ambition to sensitize the audience, to light the lamp.

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