Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

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

Postby Malia » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:00 am

Hi AE! I had another viewing of the movie this afternoon and I will admit, I gleaned more out of it the second time around. I think I understand a little better the perspective Campion was aiming for. I think, once I got my analysis of Keats out of the way, I was able to sit back and really absorb the movie without my own preconceptions of Keats and/or Fanny getting in the way. I got more of a sense of Fanny's plight as a young girl who falls in love in a serious way, but whom few people take seriously. She is corseted by society in such a way, it becomes hard for her to fully experience this love she has found. I understood and felt her frustration much more fully--and it helped me accept this particular interpretation of Keats, as well. If we are seeing him from her perspective, he would seem a kind of enigma--going away for long periods, not always keeping her abreast of what is going on in his life; trying to "cut the strings" of their love affair without taking her feelings or opinion to heart--doing it either because he can't bear the "fire" he feels when he's with her or because he thinks it is for her own good. Upon a second viewing of the movie, I could also appreciate better the choices Whishaw made with Keats's state of emotion. I could see how he was trying to smother them down--and he does explode once or twice--in ways that might very well frustrate and confuse Fanny. I still give the movie a B+, simply because the characters could have been explored and grounded a little better at the start of the film, but I am liking it more and more :)

Regarding any letters that Fanny wrote Keats--he burned them all before leaving for Italy. Keats was not generally in the habit of keeping letters, from what I understand. The romantic in me wants to believe he burned her letters as a symbolic way to steel himself for his journey to Rome--to begin his Posthumous Existence by releasing himself from his most real, passionate relationship with the woman whose letters kept him alive (to paraphrase Keats, himself).

We do have a collection of Fanny's letters to Fanny Keats ( I have a copy) and so we have a sense of her voice and attitude. From these letters, I get a sense of a woman who had a certain amount of emotional restraint--and may be seen to be somewhat cool and even practical--but who certainly felt a great deal for Keats. You sense her anguish when she writes to Fanny after she has learned of Keats's death.

Regarding the ring, yes I believe she did wear it to the end of her life. However, I don't know if she wore it on her finger or if she wore it on a chain around her neck. I'll have to look for a reference to back up this claim--but I feel certain I read it in one or more of the biographies. . .

You know, when I saw the movie last Friday with my friends and family, I suddenly realized that I've been studying Keats (mostly his life and letters) for 20 years! Crazy. It doesn't seem that long. But it is amazing how much information you can pick up in that amount of time. After the movie on Friday, Dan and Molly kept asking me questions about Keats and Fanny--and even Brown--I felt like a kid at Christmas. Rarely does anyone *willingly* listen to me talk about Keats--let alone ask me questions about him! :lol:
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Aquarius » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:16 am

You are right, Malia, about Fanny Brawn's letters to Fanny Keats revealing more about her anguish over Keats' death. She wrote to Keats sister when Keats was close to death:

'If I am to lose him I lose everything,"

Also, I don't think Keats would have so foolishly opened up his heart with so much passion and vulnerability if he thought Fanny cared nothing for him at all. She must have reciprocated his feelings at some level for him to open up to her like that.

I think I do agree with AE that from Keats' letters, we expect more emotional restraint from Fanny, compared to the more passionate portrayal of her by Abbie Cornish, but we have no real certainty because of her lost letters to him.

I think Bright Star is a film that needs to be seen on the big screen with it's luminous and gorgeous cinematography, but I think to get a more fuller picture of Keats' life, including his romance with Fanny, a long mini-series, like those on Masterpiece Theater would be great. Still, I give Bright Star an A grade, because as purely a film it succeeded for me on many levels.
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Severn in Bright Star *SPOILERS*

Postby Aquarius » Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:57 am

I'm reading Robert Gittings' biography of John Keats right now, and came across the description of Severn, and it made me think of Bright Star. Severn is described as "clumsy and endearing" and as sometimes acting younger than his age.

There is a scene in the film where the friends of Keats are sitting around for tea discussing raising funds for his trip to Italy. One of the men clumsily spills his tea over onto his saucer and then before Fanny can pour him a new cup, he just slurps/sips the spillage off his saucer. It was really funny, and I'm thinking now that he must have been Severn. I'm not sure about who was who among the other men, but for sure Severn's name came up in the film.

I think it was nice how Campion showed that slice of Severn's personality, even though it wasn't necessary, and it's a nice inside joke for Keat's fans who know who Severn is.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Malia » Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:22 pm

Yes, Aquarius, that was definitely supposed to be Severn slurping his tea :) I remember him being referred to as "Severn" by someone in the Drawing Room scene and at one point we see the same young man awkwardly asking a silent and obviously pre-occupied Keats, if he would be willing to look at his "Cave of Despair". Definitely Severn.

Although we don't get a good "look" into Severn's character in this movie, I always saw him as being somewhat like the Mr. Bingley character from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries. Someone who just cannot see troubles for what they are and tends to live on the bubbly surface of things. *Although* there definitely was another side to Severn; he could become overwhelmed with anxiety during times of obvious trouble (say, when Keats is vomiting cupfuls of blood) to the point where he could begin to feel sorry for himself. Severn was a "surface" thinker in that if everything *looked* OK on the surface, then everything must *be* OK. Thus, during the trip to Italy, he thought that he and Keats were perfectly harmonized with one another--that they were great friends and he even joked that their harmony continued while they slept (as they must have "snored" in harmony). Obviously the opposite was true. The depth of Keats's suffering was fathoms more than Severn could ever conceive of during the trip to Italy.

As far as the other men in the drawing room--I think that the man with the longer hair who asks Keats how he feels about going to Italy (after he and a group of others all consult the doctor about it right in front of Keats's face--without asking Keats's own input. . .something I found kind of strange. . .) I think the man with the longer hair is Hunt. The Old man with the white hair is Dr. Bree (who we see again visiting Keats in the Brawne's house after he comes to live with them). The others went pretty much unnamed, I think. Though I think I remember seeing Dilke there.

I've also been rereading parts of my copy of the Gittings Biography. I enjoy his perspective--especially his belief that Tom, his "fateful" love affair with an imaginary woman, and his tragic death all conspired to poison Keats's own experience of love and haunted him as he succumbed to TB. I really don't think that Tom's impact on Keats's psyche could be underestimated. Tom was his closest brother and the one person (so says George) who *truly* understood Keats. He inspired at least two of Keats's greatest poems, as well--La Belle Dame and Ode to a Nightingale.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby BrokenLyre » Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:59 pm

Malia wrote:After the movie on Friday, Dan and Molly kept asking me questions about Keats and Fanny--and even Brown--I felt like a kid at Christmas. Rarely does anyone *willingly* listen to me talk about Keats--let alone ask me questions about him! :lol:


That is so funny and so true Malia. I too experienced the same after the movie. I brought a number of people on different days and as a result saw the movie 4 times. It was fascinating to discuss Keats in public both before and after the movie - something that would almost NEVER happen in my experience! I even had strangers ask me questions and we spoke for quite a while. Delightful. Like Christmas :D

About Severn, yes it was Severn who spilled the tea, his name is mentioned during that scene (I caught this on my third watch) and John Reynolds is also in the room with the doctor and Hunt. (He's standing up and his head is almost out of the screen - but it is him.) I agree with you also that Hunt seems to be the man who takes the lead in seeing Keats go to Italy. He speaks with Keats while sitting next to him in the room with Keats' friends. I just assume that Taylor, Hessey, Woodhouse, Haydon, Haslam were all there in the room with Hunt, Severn, Reynolds, Keats and Dr. Bree. That would make 10 people (excluding Fanny). 5 were mentioned in the movie and 5 were not - just my happy assumption. Let my fancy roam :)

Did you all notice the scene at the Spanish Steps? Today, there is a plaque on the outside of the wall stating that this is where Keats died (something like that). It's between the windows on the third floor. If you saw the building in the scene, you will notice that the plaque was thoughtfully edited out. I thought that was a nice touch of realism, even though nobody would know what it says from that distant camera shot. Lovely.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Malia » Wed Oct 07, 2009 5:05 pm

Hi BrokenLyre :)
I didn't notice that the plaque had been edited out--but good on the movie-makers for being that detail oriented. I remember as I watched that scene (twice :) ), thinking how much trouble it must have been to zone the area for filming and make sure the place looked deserted (unless that, too, was done in post-production). I suppose they filmed very early in the morning--which would have been totally appropriate to history--and few people would have been up and around the piazza at that time, anyway. Funny the things you consider when you're watching a movie, though.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:15 pm

Extremely jealous at those of you who have seen it once, never mind thrice :mrgreen:
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Malia » Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:11 am

I thought Bright Star was playing only through today at our local Indie Theatre, but it turns out it is running at least through October 15. Maybe I can catch it *one* more time on the big screen ;)
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby dks » Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:11 pm

Well...I saw it...last night. I will say that it was a surreal experience--I love Malia's and BL's description of "a kid at Christmas" because that is exactly what it felt like during the very first 10 or 15 minutes of the film--to hear everyone say his name over and over and to see all of the 'characters' of his life come to full fruition on the screen made me giddy--at one point I clapped my hands out loud when I first heard Whishaw speak--it was very real for me--she couldn't have selected a better actor for the job...even the wide mouth and full lips--and the Cockney accent--even in Whishaw's slighted form--not to mention the soft bass of his voice--it was all down pat. I began to attribute my own knowledge (or imagination) to little details in the film afterward, such as the color of Whishaw's hair vs. Keats's actual deep auburn, or the color of Cornish's eyes vs. Fanny's blue ones, etc...but they were triflings, really...I thoroughly loved and enjoyed every millisecond of it--it was a work of art, truly. There are scenes that almost take your breath away--the color, the costumes, the trees, the snow, the butterflies, the breezes...Campion managed to dazzle senses in a way that I think Keats would be proud. I wasn't disappointed one iota--Fanny wasn't the main focus as I had thought would happen--rather, their romance was. Keats's background was spared entirely--as were any delvings into his friends' lives--you do only get a minor idea of who was in his life (and funding it)--you get almost inadvertant mention of Hunt, Reynolds, Severn (yes, the clumsy tea moment was done well, I thought) and the like...I did love the way she had them almost blurred out as a ring of support for him, though--I think that is really the way it was--he had a circle of friends who truly saw his genius and, as a result, sought hard to preserve it--that came through--very well, I thought.

Brown's character was of a different matter--I would probably have to see it again to make solid comment on it--it was great acting for sure, but wow, was he an ass in the film. I am sure he was that in real life, as well (I mean, the biographies talk about it), but his bond with Keats (as strange and strained as it was) was played down in light of the romance--and perhaps that was Motion's final idea on it. You get the idea--clearly--that Brown was infatuated with Keats, not Fanny, from the movie...and not a romantic infatuation, but a weird, brotherly/fatherly obessesive one...interesting, to say the least. And the poetry--Campion did a stellar job weaving that in--such gorgeous readings of Nightingale, La Belle Dame..., Bright Star, etc...she delivered promptly with the poetry, I have to say...

I apologize for such a scatter-shot review, guys. My head is still processing it, really. I know I have much more to say about it, but I can't find words at the moment...I'm still swimming in it--I forgot to mention how many times I cried while watching it...I had a wet ball of tissues in my hand when I left the theater...

In any case, I adored it. I cannot wait to own it and watch it weekly. I came home after seeing it and stayed up until 2am and did what?...

...I wrote a poem.
Last edited by dks on Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby dks » Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:16 pm

Saturn wrote:Extremely jealous at those of you who have seen it once, never mind thrice :mrgreen:



...and when you do see it, Stephen, I am anxious to hear your take...

I know you will fall more in love with Cornish--she is really very beautiful.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:18 pm

Well she is perhaps, or not perhaps is more beautiful than Fanny ever was, and I fell in love with her on Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby dks » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:52 pm

Saturn wrote:Well she is perhaps, or not perhaps is more beautiful than Fanny ever was, and I fell in love with her on Elizabeth: The Golden Age lol



I'm certain--she's wondrous...and you'll be happy to know that her and Whishaw's chemistry was palpable and not one bit forced--they were right on the same level, those two--it worked--beautifully.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Aquarius » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:02 am

I'm glad everyone felt like a kid at Christmas after the film, because I went with my sister (who reluctantly went with me), and she really wasn't curious about Keats, even after watching the movie. I don't know how anyone could not fall in love with Keats after that! I've read Aileen Ward's bio and I'm in the middle of the Robert Gittings one, while also reading the poems at the same time. Now with the film, I find that the more I read and hear and see about Keats, the more fascinating he becomes for me.

Also, dks, I myself was very moved by the beautiful scenes in the movie. The scene when Fanny is walking in the field of wild flowers was breathtaking-I even heard in the audience someone gasp in awe when the image appeared of her among those beautiful blue/purple flowers.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby dks » Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:13 am

[quote="Aquarius"
Also, dks, I myself was very moved by the beautiful scenes in the movie. The scene when Fanny is walking in the field of wild flowers was breathtaking-I even heard in the audience someone gasp in awe when the image appeared of her among those beautiful blue/purple flowers.


Yes...that was purposeful--I think Campion must have alluded cinematically to one of his letters in which he endeavors to define in words the exact hue of said flowers (and grape jam)--Keats himself came up with the word "purplue."
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby BrokenLyre » Sat Oct 10, 2009 5:03 am

Thank you dks for your review - we who saw it can certainly identify with so much of what you wrote. Believe it or not - I enjoyed it much more the second time as my expectations were then appropriately narrowed to the actual film and I just let it "come to me." Since I did not have to track with it as hard as the first time, I really enjoyed the development better.

By the way, my mom (who cares nothing for Keats, and doesn't like English movies or English accents) really enjoyed the movie and said, "That ending was worth the price of the movie!" Just thought her comment was interesting as I shared it with her.

So glad you enjoyed it DKS! I especially liked thinking about the movie as it was refracted by your own thoughts and emotions. Wonderful.
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