Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Malia » Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:59 pm

My mouth is watering! Man, I cannot wait for this movie; will definitely be watching it while sipping a fine glass of claret. (I expect I'll only get to watch it on DVD--not many artsy films get out to Spokane, though we do have a film festival . . .)
I hope it does well at Cannes!
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Malia » Fri May 01, 2009 2:26 am

Here are some more production stills to add to those Credo found :)

http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/movie/bright-star/stills/
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Saturn » Fri May 01, 2009 8:29 am

I may be alone, being a guy and not impressed by Ben Wishaw's handsomeness here, and a stickler for detail, a pedant and a party-pooper, but the more pictures I see of this film the more I get annoyed by the fact that neither of the leads look anything like the pictures we have of them.

I could just about take Keats looking like a modern rockstar [unshaven most of the time it seems from these pictures which was not an acceptable look to have in society in that period; it was a look for vagrants and drunkards, not a middle-class writer to be seen purporting] but to have Keats as a tall handsome dark-haired Byronic-type is just wrong on every level and it's hardly worth doing a film on Keats, however good, if you don't even try to get the look which contemporaries described so well, and even more importantly the height of the man which had a profound effect on psyche and self-image and sense of himself as a man.

If taken as just a simple boo-hoo love story as this seems to suggest that's fine if that's all you want, but it could be about anybody, it could be fictional; why make it about Keats and Fanny when you don't bother to capture the look and feel of the man.

I'll probably still go and see it if I can but the more I learn the more discouraged I become that's it's going to be another wasted opportunity by filmakers to present the life of a great man and a great story on screen.

I know Jane Campion is a great director, and the actors involved are great and it's a story worth telling, and it may even be a great film, certainly it looks impressive but it doesn't feel like it's Keats to me...

Grumble...grumble...rant rant...
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Malia » Fri May 01, 2009 2:53 pm

I can understand your concern, Saturn. For my part, though, I think Ben Whishaw is a good choice for the role. That is to say, I have high hopes for him. Yes, he looks fairly "modern" at times. I don't think his height matters much because camera tricks and angles etc. can turn him into a "short" man when needed (It worked for the Hobbits in the Lord of the Rings Trillogy ;) ) and he is about the same height as the person playing Fanny (which the real Keats stated explicitly in one of his letters as being fact). My confidence in Whishaw is buoyed by the fact that:
1) he did a lot of reading and research on Keats for the role--he didn't just read the script and jump in there

2) he is said to have played a very fine Hamlet--and if Whishaw can play (and grasp the inner workings of) Hamlet, I think he can play (and grasp the inner workings of) Keats.

3) I've seen him act in other roles and he's a fine actor with a great ability to hone energy and express it well through his face and body movement--something essential in any actor playing Keats.

Finally 4), I think, as an actor, Whishaw possesses something akin to "negative capability"--basically, the ability to put himself aside and step into a role completely. (Anyone who's seen an interview with him--or, in fact, seen him in any capacity outside of a role he's playing will know he is not the characters he plays; he does a fine job of "filling and informing some other being" when he's in a role).

Granted, he's still young, but Whishaw is destined to be a very fine actor, I believe. While Whishaw doesn't look *exactly* like my mental vision of Keats (which is kind of a compilation of the life mask and various drawings we have), he comes fairly close (the big difference being that Whishaw is on the lean and gangly side--where as Keats was of a sturdier, stocky build). I let the stocky build go, though, because this movie does take place toward the end of Keats's life and I expect he'd become skinnier at that time of his life--let's just say, I'm willing to do a little "suspension of disbelief" there. His exact build and height don't matter as much to me as the actor's ability to convey his intensity and depth of character, which I think Whishaw is capable of doing.

I'm also heartened by the fact that Campion consulted Andrew Motion--noted Keats scholar--about her script. And both Campion and Whishaw have expressed their deep respect for and interest in Keats.

Of course, this movie most likely isn't *about* Keats. It is not a biography of Keats on film; it is about Fanny Brawne more than anything. I believe this is a look at their relationship from her POV. I am very OK with that, as I'm curious to see a feminist interpretation of her experience as the girlfriend of Keats. My biggest concern is that that it doesn't end up being a melodramatic Regency love story. The one thing about Keats is that any aspect of his life (esp. his relationship with Fanny) could easily, in the wrong hands, be made into something extremely melodramatic and ridiculous. But in the right hands, it can be as dramatic, passionate and tragic as anything in Shakespeare. I have good hopes for Campion's interpretation.
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Credo Buffa » Fri May 01, 2009 5:06 pm

:shock: Those stills, Malia! Wheee those are brilliant! *jumping up and down clapping like a little girl with excitement!*

I'm definitely with Malia on how things are shaping up with this movie. I'm reminded of a comment that I believe Milos Foreman made with regards to casting Amadeus. It's about finding someone who can embody the roll more than anything. You can spend all the time you want finding a spitting image of a historical figure, but can that person act? Will that person become the character? Personally, I could care less if Ben Whishaw doesn't look exactly like Keats so long as, when I have the experience of seeing and hearing him on screen, he can convince me that he is Keats, regardless of what color his hair is or if his chin is a little scruffy around the edges. I think that's the most important thing here, and it's impossible to make that kind of judgement simply from still images.

With regards to his height, I think we also have to account basic physiological shifts that have occurred since Keats' day. Ben Whishaw is, what, 5'7"? 5'8"? These days, that's considered relatively "short" for a man, especially when we're talking about screen actors. A 5'0" man today is something of an oddity. We can see clearly enough from the photos that he's standing about eye-to-eye with Fanny, which I think is accurate enough to the descriptions. Plus, we have yet to see him next to any of the other male characters in the story. Cast enough of your typical actor types at 5'11" and 6'0" alongside Mr. Whishaw and he's going to be noticeably short.

And Malia's right: this is Fanny's story, not Keats'. The image we're going to get of Keats, then, is going to be a filtered one: we'll not see him as he sees himself--the Keats we know from his letters and from biographers and from other accounts--but as Fanny sees him. That by itself is a fascinating prospect, I think: it's a different perspective from the one we're used to getting. I just finished reading a historical novel about Nannerl Mozart, the older sister of the composer. Although I wouldn't go out there and say that it's a great book, it's still an extremely interesting idea to look at the more famous individual through the eyes of a supporting character. Yes, sometimes it's frustrating to see a beloved idol "taken down a peg" by means of interpretation, but isn't that the way life is? Will not everyone's existence only go so far as the as the reflection it casts on others? As the great Stacey and Clinton of What Not To Wear would say, "We cannot control how we are perceived, only how we are presented." Or something like that. ;)

I do have to say, though, the one at the link that Malia posted of Fanny standing over Keats as he writes at the little table with his legs crossed did have me thinking, "Now, THAT is Keats." Perhaps it's because the pose reminds me a bit of Severn's famous posthumous portrait of Keats reading at Wentworth Place. :)
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby BrokenLyre » Tue May 05, 2009 1:28 am

You all have such excellent points about the upcoming movie. On one level, I am so happy just to know that someone is making a film about Keats at all - that I look forward to it! On another level, I feel apprehensive because Campion's approach to include Keats' life in a film focused primarily on his relationship with Fanny will leave me wanting much more about Keats and his own poetic aspirations and hardships. So (right now at least) I feel as ambivalent about the movie as the ambivalence Keats felt in some of his writings. In a strange way, I feel like the kid before Christmas, who in great anticipation for the wonderful presents he will receive is tempered by the fact that his dad doesn't have that much money. But Christmas is still Christmas.
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Malia » Sat May 09, 2009 9:47 pm

More Bright Star Info :)

As I searched the internet today, I found a few new interesting tidbits about Bright Star. On the Cannes Film Festival website there is a page dedicated to Bright Star and it includes a few new photo stills of the movie as well as a press kit, which I highly recommend downloading. I just read through it and it provided a *lot* of background and insight into why Campion wrote and directed the film, how Abby Cornish, Ben Whishaw and Carrie Fox (Fanny B.'s mother) felt about seeing the script and developing their characters and also some insights about film location and costuming from the movie's producer.

It turns out that Campion was inspired to begin this whole project after reading Andrew Motion's biography, Keats. The credit rolls are included in the press kit and show that he was an advisor on the film.

Here is a link to the website--you'll see link for the press kit on the right hand side of the screen. It is a pdf file, so you need Adobe Acrobat to read it.

OK, now I must get back to real life! :)

http://www.festival-cannes.fr/en/archiv ... /2009.html
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby BrokenLyre » Sun May 10, 2009 1:14 am

Thanks Malia for the link. I enjoyed reading the whole site. Maybe Christmas will be better than I expect.
On the site you referenced, I was encouraged by Jane Campion's comment:

"I was determined to get as much of his poetry in as we could. A lot of people feel alienated from poetry because they feel they don't understand it. But Keats is a great explainer of poetry and I wanted to use that in the story. Poetry is a drug really, it goes into your head and it sticks."

Hope this encourages the rest of you :)
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Credo Buffa » Tue May 12, 2009 5:18 pm

Wonderful! Very encouraging indeed. I have no doubt that Jane Campion, especially now having read her own words on the subject, truly does care and respect the people in this story and the legacy they've left for us. I also am glad to note that Ms. Campion worked on the screenplay with a producer who "had really fallen in love with Keats's poetry in. . . high school." As someone who did the same, I have to feel a kind of ease knowing that someone intimately involved in this film has had Keats stewing in her soul for many years in much the same way we do.

I am struck by the mention of the script being described as "modern." I'm sure that's the sort of thing that won't necessarily sit well with all lovers of Keats, and I admit that I'll have to see for myself before making a judgement. However, if the modernity, as they describe it, does in fact lend it to a kind of universal accessibility, then I'm all for it. Talking over people's heads is just as bad as anything, if you ask me.

Other things:

-It does seem that Brown is going to be an important mediating character here in establishing the relationship between Keats and Fanny, which is great.

-Ben Whishaw definitely seems to feel the weight of taking on this role and what his interpretation means for the band of Keats devotees out there.

-By the assertions of those involved in the filmmaking process, both Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish seem to exude something in their natural selves that speaks to the characters they are portraying. As I mentioned earlier in our discussion, this is great news, because the likelihood that we'll come out of this film feeling that we're watching Keats and Fanny, regardless of whatever preconceived ideas we have about their general appearance, seems much heightened by that fact.

-I don't remember seeing this in cast lists before, but is Tom Keats going to make an appearance here? The early synopsis mentions that Keats and Fanny are drawn together by Tom's illness. So. . . we can only assume, right?
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Malia » Tue May 12, 2009 5:35 pm

Credo, I know that Tom makes an appearance as there is someone cast to play him. I expect it will be a minimal appearance, however--toward the beginning of the movie.

I know, the talk of "modern" kind of concerned me as well. But I was encouraged by the fact that the camera angles will be classical in nature--not bouncing around MTV-style or trying to "manipulate" the viewer with strange visual perspectives. I think, by modern, she may mean that they will not necessarily speak in exactly the style that people did back then? I think her concern was that stiff-sounding language will make the actor seem "stiff" and a great amount of emotional authenticity will be lost as a result. But, considering Keats's letters and his poetry are written from the Regency style of "talk"--it would be quite jarring if they spoke dialogue in a more modern vocabulary and cadence and then suddenly in a poem or letter reverted to the Regency style. Who knows?

I've read that those lucky few who have had the chance to preview the film are giving it "raves"--hopefully that sentiment extends past the art house community!
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Credo Buffa » Tue May 12, 2009 6:53 pm

I think, by modern, she may mean that they will not necessarily speak in exactly the style that people did back then?


This is what I'm thinking. My best guess is that the cadence of speech, if not entirely the vocabulary, will at least be a bit more accessible to contemporary ears. I do admit that sometimes this bothers me in period films, but at the same time I can understand why they do it. Having watched enough Jane Austen films with friends who aren't necessarily well versed in Regency speech patterns, it's easy to see how people can be alienated by something so foreign to their ears. We can think of it as sort of being akin to the way films use accents and dialects. If you have a film being made for an English-speaking audience that is set in Germany, for example, you're probably not going to want all of your actors speaking in German accents. Not only does it sound ridiculous, but you're presenting the material in a way that is going to sound foreign to the viewer; you're going to create a distance between the on-screen action and the viewer's own life experience that will make it harder for a real connection to occur. You want to communicate with the audience on its own level, thus you have the actors speak with American accents or English accents or what have you, because it will draw us in.

We can think of this "modernity" in the same way. While we might expect a film set in Regency England to have a certain cadence of speech, that expectation (and the execution of it as we see in so many Jane Austen adaptations) sets us up to feel separate. It's a kind of museum experience, hearing something that we don't hear in our daily lives. But suppose that Keats and Fanny don't necessarily talk like that in this movie? Not that they're going to be going around using contemporary slang or anything like that that would obviously place them in an anachronistic situation, but isn't it reasonable to assume that at least some of that museum experience will dissolve and, despite the sets and costumes and other cues that remind us that we are in another time, the audience might be able to more closely connect to the characters and the story? Keats, after all, wouldn't have heard anything affected or "period" in his own manner of speaking, so why should we?
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby BrokenLyre » Tue May 12, 2009 9:47 pm

Well said, and I agree with you. I appreciate your insight. The challenge for any period piece is to be faithful to the era in its manner of speaking but also communicate to the modern audience. Interestingly, translations of ancient literature struggle with this all the time. A straight-forward translation of ancient Greek to contemporary English is rather difficult on the ears and often miscommunicates, while a "dynamic equivalence" approach to translation communicates to modern sensitivities but can lose the nuances and cadence of Greek. I think there is a similar tension for Campion - how to make them speak in Regency language and idiomatic expressions without losing connection (as you say) with our style of communication.
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Malia » Fri May 15, 2009 2:38 pm

Hi Everyone! Well, Bright Star had its debut today and the first reviews are fairly glowing :) I saw the press conference at Cannes and many of the reporters commented on how much they loved it.
Here's a link to one from The Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/may ... val-review
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby ash » Sat May 16, 2009 5:29 am

Someone on the Bright Star page of imdb just posted a link to these two videos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQIeENnEvmg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0afEOtb-mM

Enjoy! :)

P.S. I've noticed a spammer on the board who keeps posting about DVDs(non Keats related, one was a season of NCIS). You might want to ban them.
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Re: Keats The Movie - the news we've all been waiting for....

Postby Saturn » Sat May 16, 2009 9:12 pm

Thanks Malia and Ash for the new news.

I'm feeling a bit more positive about the film with the good vibes coming from Cannes, but now I want to avoid trailers, reviews etc so when I do see it I'll [hopefully] be pleasantly surprised :D

Hopefully a theatrical release will not be too far after the end of the festival.

Come on you distributors! Get this film to as many screens as you can!
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