Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Join in the discussion of the 2009 film Bright Star.

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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby dks » Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:22 pm

Malia wrote:I can understand why they didn't film in Wentworth Place--it was undergoing restoration at the time and it *is* awfully small--it might be a headache to fit all the camera equipment and crew, etc. in there. I don't mind if they film someplace else. My only concern about that particular aspect of the film is that they call it "Wentworth House"--I don't understand why the name should be changed from "Place" . . . maybe it has something to do with the use of "house" as a designation for larger dwellings in the 19th C.? But I'm not really too bothered about it.


Granted--I shouldn't be a stickler about locale and I will endeavor to emulate your diplomatic approach to the film, Malia...that is, until I read the following review again! I knew it...deep down I should've been more prepared...she is going to make Fanny the omnipresence and, in doing so, all of the striking aspects of Keats, the poet and the man, will be played at very low volume in relation to his romance with her--there is only one reason why a filmmaker would do this in this instance--1. to determine that the romance itself was his Muse, or 2. to assert that Fanny herself was his Muse and that either was the real driving force behind his rapid poetic endowment and subsequent, cemented place among the English poets--and neither reason appeals to me because that just wasn't the case. Here is the review--and, although it praises the film itself, it was a disappointing bit of information for me...I'll get over it, but it just grates on my obsessive nerves is all...I'd like to hear what you guys have to say about it...

http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout ... 1&nid=2853
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Malia » Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:51 pm

DKS, I understand your concerns--in fact, early on when I heard that this movie would be from Fanny's perspective, I was a little concerned that it would be the Fanny Brawne Show--with a little Keats mixed in ;) But as time has gone on, I have become curious to see a movie from Fanny's perspective. Generally speaking, it would be interesting to see what kind of a world she lived in (especially considering the social constraints she had to endure and what it must have been like to love a man who was not only poor and a poet, but often absent from her life and more than a little ambivalent about his feelings about her). Fanny is a good choice of perspective, I think, because your average audience member will probably not know or understand poetry--especially of the Keatsian variety--very well and will need to be "tutored" in some way; Fanny needs that, as well, and so she is our gateway to Keats.

I have a feeling that Keats will not be as emotionally strong as he perhaps could be--(but hopefully he won't be too much like Shelley's Adonais: a poor, wilting flower--I truly dislike that reinvention of Keats). I can accept that this Keats will probably be more emotionally vulnerable than strong, as at this point in his life he is freshly mourning both his brothers' leaving him, is dealing with great poverty, and is fast becoming ill with an incurable disease. I remember recently reading some of Keats's "early" letters (I say "early" because they are written only a very few years before his last letters!) and his tone, perspective, attitude, maturity-level etc. are all so different from the letters he writes, say, from Shanklin in 1819. So much after Tom's death is tinted with deeper shadows or played in a minor key. Before that, he generally sounds so much more energetic, excited, and like the narrator-poet in his Chapman's Homer who stares out at life as if a new world just swam into his sight.

Granted, after saying all this, I would *love* a BBC Mini-series of about 6 hours that covers Keats's entire life and psychological experience ala Aileen Ward--but I don't see many others outside this forum feeling the same way ;) Not enough to expend the money and time to make such a mini-series, anyway! But I think Campion chose the perspective and time of Keats's life that would most appeal to a general (i.e. non-Keatsian) audience. Hopefully her movie will bring more people into the fold, and we will have a few more Keatsians as a result.

Speaking of Fanny being Keats's muse, I would say that toward the *end* (late 1819 through to his journey to Italy), Keats was beginning to make Fanny Brawne the center of his imagination and universe--as he was consumed by TB, so she consumed him and became a kind of symbol of his imploding muse and poetic passion. I've just read an excellent biography called "Posthumous Keats" by Stanley Plumley (Have you read it yet? It is a great read for well-healed Keatsians) and he makes this very connection and does it convincingly. I will have to find the section where he discusses this, as I truly think he's on to something there. Perhaps Campion also goes down this road in her interpretation of Keats and his muse (what his muse eventually evolves into, at any rate).
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby dks » Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:20 pm

Yes--to all of what you said, Malia--very well put...and I do need to remember that the audience will not be as obsessive we are--or-um--I am...:oops:

In any case, I think my histrionics stem from a good, old hearty does of sour grapes at the fact that this is not a movie about Keats...and I knew that from day one, but seem to keep up my own 'fits and starts' about it...a movie from her perspective would, indeed, be an interesting venture into the period and world that surrounded him and his influences. I think what bothers me a bit is (and you lightly touched on this chord eloquently) that I am already fashioning this idea in my head that he will be depicted as the eternal Romantic sufferer--the hapless sensitive who got dealt the bad deck of cards...he would have so hated that interpretation of himself...and, I will trod on further to say that even his epitaph will be misconstrued--it was the formulation of sentiment from a man who was deeply harrowed at the fact that he didn't have the time to make his mark and see it happen--neither in poetry, nor in love--it was not a self-pitying adage--certainly not, since he had long prepared himself for an untimely end.

Interesting that you mention Plumley's book--I teach with a man who is personal friends with him and has several times recommended I read it...I will have to do that and exchange ideas with you about his notions with regard to Keats's inspiration during those last searing months...I have a few of my own ideas about that--some of which center on his reconciling with his past (issues with loss) and his ideas of afterlife--this along with his feelings for Fanny...all amalgamated with his harrowing anatomical transformation--from barrel chested and sturdy-stocky to rail thin, gaunt and perpetually fevered...literally not having the energy half the time (and much later all of the time) to pick up pen and write. TB--an awful way to die.

Man...do I wish we all lived as neighbors and could choose at whose house we would meet each week for ritual Keats discussions and great red wine :!:

I should like to see a director with a penchant for strong male characters and period pieces make the film I'm still waiting for...
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby riverborn » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:01 am

The Plumley book is pretty cool- taylor made for Keats obsessives.

The "writ in water thing" I'm not so sure of. I think that he was deeply troubled, perhaps bitter, that he did not have the time to grow into his greatness. Remember that Keats went through phases of dead poet teachers like Wordsworth, Milton and Dryden and finally looked to Shakespeare as his presiding spirit. Keats saw these dead poets almost as if they were a pantheon of great spirits that he wanted to belong to, to earn a place among. Even as Keats was dying he was debating whether or not he would be 'among the English poets". And then there is that letter where he said "God knows how it would have been, but I will not speak of that". To me what is so remarkable about Keats is a depth and richness of humanity coupled with an equal measure of a divine, immortal nature. It is the dialogue between these inner states, the seeking of balance and clarity within darkness, that fuels his greatest poetry.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby dks » Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:06 am

I think you're right, Riverborn, about him being deeply troubled...and yes, he did want a spot within the annals of the greats--he said it himself that he thought he'd be "among the English Poets after [his] death". He knew his rapid development was genius, he also knew that the critics and wide audiences did not see this because they simply couldn't yet...he was perhaps never completely alright with that, but he had just become immersed in his own creative process when his TB really flared--shortly before he sailed for Italy. He rode that crest for as long as he knew he could...and, I think, the bitterness that really overtook him was associated with Fanny--that he couldn't be with her, but someone possibly (and eventually) could--and would.

Nonetheless, his epitaph doesn't produce haggard sympathies as much as it does aching sorrow--if for no other reason than for the fact that we are all now aware of how savagely short-lived his poetic development was--and how much more poetic beauty he had within him that we will never have the joy of knowing...
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby riverborn » Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:57 pm

Well said dks. Keats life is a heart wrenching journey into our own interior landscapes. The limitations of our humanity, our mortality, that are intricately linked with a yearning, a spirituality, a hunger for beauty and meaning. Keats story is our story compressed and distilled.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby BrokenLyre » Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:49 am

riverborn wrote:Well stated dks. Keats life is a heart wrenching journey into our own interior landscapes. The limitations of our humanity, our mortality, that are intricately linked with a yearning, a spirituality, a hunger for beauty and meaning. Keats story is our story compressed and distilled.


That is so true and so well said. I couldn't agree more. Your last line reminds me of a wonderful quote from Stanley Kunitz in his book on Keats. "Modern readers do not need to be told to admire John Keats. Whether they know it or not, he has already entered into their dreams, he is a portion of their hopes, he lives in their desires."

He's right. Keats has a way of plucking the strings of our dreams, hopes, and desires. People may not know it but Keats has spoken for them. Our story "compressed and distilled" - I like that, riverborn.

Sometimes I just quote Kunitz's line above for people who are unfamiliar with Keats. I find it a great way to get them thinking.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby riverborn » Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:56 pm

Yeah Keats is not like "Oh I like his poetry". My experience is that it all gets under your skin, into some visceral part of you that is deeper than thought. Then it becomes a part of you, it is the spirit guide of your own inner mythology. You know there is that meeting with Moneta where the poet is confronted with his own folly- "are you a poet or a dreamer"- and Keats chose to be a poet - to re mythologize the pain; physical, spiritual, psychological, of being a human being- into "soul making" and trust in the holiness of the hearts affections. And one could ask: "How did a 23 year old man do this, what vein of wisdom and genius did he come into the world with?" I think that his poetry suggests that he was the poet-child of a Goddess and not a God, for part of his genius certainly, through his writings, was in bringing a powerful feminine presence back into the human world. I am in complete awe of him.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Malia » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:37 am

It is interesting that, out of all images in Keats's poetry, you comment on the poet-dreamer and Moneta, riverborn. That is one of my most favorite pieces in his collection of works in part because it conveys an exceptionally dramatic and even haunting imagery, digs deep into some of the philosophical questions that Keats struggled with (especially the idea of pain, and how it figures into the healing power of the poet), and is also (at least in my interpretation of the poem) an almost psycho-drama between Keats and mortality in the form of a mother-figure. Of all his works, to me, it seems--almost ironically--the *most* modern. You absolutely could not dismiss the depth and breadth of this interchange as simply "nice" or even "interesting". It goes beyond that and really does get into your bone marrow with all its questions and struggles about what it means to be human and an artist.

I think it is interesting that you say Keats is the child of a Goddess and not a God. It touches on an interesting aspect of Keats the man and the poet. Keats the man was somewhat of a misogynist. His letters contain many passages that illustrate this. He had extremely conflicting feelings about women, stemming, I suspect, from his tragic experiences with his mother. And yet, one senses that he desired to heal his spirit of that "rift" between himself and women. He longed for a mother-figure in his life--to be mothered and consoled. (He found a certain amount of maternal consolation in Mrs. Brawne and, I would think, even in Fanny herself to some degree.) I see in Moneta a kind of poetic mother-figure. She is a figure associated with death and pain (a kind of haunting reflection of his own biographical experience with his mother). I can see the poet-goddess you mention as being a reflection of the maternal connection Keats craved. He certainly used his art in part as a means of self-healing . . . a way to deal with his feelings and refocus his energy in a creative and healthy way. And his biggest wound had everything to do with his early childhood experiences with his mother's abandonments. It makes sense that it is a female image that oversees Keats's creative works. I think a female is at the heart of most of them--that is, his desire for healing, and his use of poetry as a vehicle toward healing, are at the most protean level, inspired by a desire for healing the wounds related to his relationship with his mother :)
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:55 pm

Back to the topic...

According to the IMDB the U.K. release date is November the 6th :(

Well at least that's a solid date to look forward to, also here's a few more worldwide release dates:

New Zealand 9 July 2009 (Auckland International Film Festival)
New Zealand 17 July 2009 (Wellington International Film Festival)
Netherlands 15 October 2009
UK 6 November 2009
Germany 24 December 2009
Greece 24 December 2009
Australia 26 December 2009

No sign of a U.S. date as of yet, but you lucky New Zealanders will be next to see the film :D
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Malia » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:07 pm

Saturn, I've heard that the US Release date will be September 18. Of course, it is not official yet--but that date hasn't fluxuated much in the last month.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:17 pm

Oooh, you got a source for that?
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Malia » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:51 pm

I read it on one (or two) of the myriad websites I trolled while looking up info about Bright Star--I'll go back over them and see if I can get a link to this info. I don't think it is official, but it is truly the only date I've heard for a US release in the last several weeks.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Endymion » Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:26 pm

Malia wrote:Hopefully her movie will bring more people into the fold, and we will have a few more Keatsians as a result.


I've been thinking about this Saturn ... how about a more prominent link to this site for those joining who wish to discuss the forthcoming movie? I admit it took me a few moments to find this link, looking again today.

Might as well make it easy for those wishing to join such pleasant discussions.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:28 pm

Interesting idea, I shall certainly think about that, nearer to release of the film perhaps I might create a separate forum for discussion on all aspects of the film. So little is unknown still, and so few have seen it as yet.
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