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

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Postby Malia » Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:17 am

I know I've mentioned the play called "Keats" before--and lamented it. The play was a one-man show done in the late '90's and had a short run (for obvious reasons). I found a review of it and thought I'd paste it here primarily as an example of what tends to happen when Keats is the subject of a drama. It seems that so many dramas about Keats (and there are very few of them, to be sure) are badly done. I'm hoping against hope that the impending movie "Bright Star" will NOT follow in the footsteps of dramas like "Keats". As far as "Bright Star" is concerned, I only hope that Campion won't turn it into a feminist study of Fanny Brawne (though to see her as a strong, complex character would be good), that Keats won't end up looking like a totally misogynistic abuser, and that there will be at least a *ray* of sunlight somewhere within the tragic cirucumstances that surround their romance. One can hope!

By WILBORN HAMPTON
Published: August 27, 1996, Tuesday

On Feb. 23, 1821, John Keats lay in his small room overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome and called out to his friend, the painter Joseph Severn. ''Severn . . . I am dying . . . I shall die easy . . . don't be frightened . . . be firm and thank God it has come.''

Those poignant words, among English literature's most familiar dying utterances, are not spoken, however, in ''Keats,'' an uninspired and ill-advised one-character play by David Shepard about the poet's last days. In fact, the Keats one encounters in this 75-minute exercise bears little resemblance to the selfless and generous young man described by his friends and biographers.

Keats had gone to Rome the previous September hoping against hope that the Italian sun would wash from his body the tuberculosis that was destroying him. He knew he was dying. He had nursed his mother and a younger brother through their deaths from the same thing, and he had recognized the first symptoms of what he called ''the family disease'' while on a walking tour of Scotland in the summer of 1818. His fears were confirmed with his first hemorrhage in February 1820.

In Mr. Shepard's version, with Austin Pendleton in the title role, Keats denies he is seriously ill. When a doctor takes a blood sample and diagnoses tuberculosis, Keats acts stunned. He seems more concerned with his literary reputation and keeps rushing over to his writing table to jot down a few more lines to shore up his immortality (with Mr. Pendleton stamping his foot, trying to think of the right word, more like he's working a crossword puzzle than creating some of the greatest verse in English literature).

In fact, Keats did not write another line of poetry after his first attack. At the time of his death at 25, he had decided that his work, only about half of which was published in his lifetime, would never be remembered, telling Severn that his name was one ''writ in water.''

The play begins with a coughing fit on a day Keats is being examined by the doctor in his room on the Piazza di Spagna, then unfolds in a series of flashbacks. There is Keats and his friend, Cowden Clarke, staying up all night to read Chapman's translation of Homer; his proposal to Fanny Brawne (who finally accepted him although in the play she rejects him); his renunciation of his medical studies at Guy's Hospital in London for the life of a poet; his battles with editors and critics. But the audience hears only his half of these conversations. ''Keats'' is a one-man show with a cast of a dozen or more, so that Mr. Pendleton is constantly addressing either some unseen person in the room or someone offstage.

To make this credible, an actor must have not only a clear idea of his own character but of all those who remain silent and invisible as well. Under Douglas Hall's direction, Mr. Pendleton does not seem to have a grasp on the character of Keats. In this portrayal the poet is seen as vain and peevish, barking orders for Severn to fetch the mail and impatient for friends and relatives to send him money to return to England. As a result Mr. Pendleton gives a stylized performance, often pausing for effect in mid-sentence (as though again searching for the right word) or emphasizing the final word of one line, then rushing on to the next.

Mr. Pendleton does read the half-dozen or so poems rendered in ''Keats'' with feeling (although the first does not come until 20 minutes into the play). They are, not unsurprisingly, the best part of the evening.
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Postby Saturn » Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:47 am

Have you posted this before Malia?

Is the same play where the guy playing him was in his 40s or something?
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Postby Malia » Fri Jun 09, 2006 1:08 am

Saturn wrote:Have you posted this before Malia?

Is the same play where the guy playing him was in his 40s or something?


Same play, but a different review. . .at least I *think* it's different! :lol: :roll:
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Postby Credo Buffa » Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:23 am

Well, I did a search on imdb, and it now appears that "Bright Star" has a listing, but it's not available for general viewing (you need to have a subscription I think) just yet. However, the one notable bit of info that is visible is that it's release isn't scheduled until 2008. Granted, imdb isn't an "official" site, so it does often happen that information is incorrect and/or speculative, especially this early on in a project, but I think this makes a tad more sense than 2007 (unless it's very late 2007).
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Postby Saturn » Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:33 am

The imdb is great - I couldn't do without it - even the people in the film industry use it - casting agents and so forth :D
Last edited by Saturn on Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Malia » Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:34 am

Credo Buffa wrote:Well, I did a search on imdb, and it now appears that "Bright Star" has a listing, but it's not available for general viewing (you need to have a subscription I think) just yet. However, the one notable bit of info that is visible is that it's release isn't scheduled until 2008. Granted, imdb isn't an "official" site, so it does often happen that information is incorrect and/or speculative, especially this early on in a project, but I think this makes a tad more sense than 2007 (unless it's very late 2007).



2008 makes more sense to me, too. I was amazed when I read that the movie was slated for 2007 release, considering the script hasn't even been completed yet. But just the thought that it *will* be made (crossing fingers that nothing goes terribly wrong) makes it worth the wait. Frankly I've been hoping for a Keats-related movie for over 10 years, a few more years is not much to ask for :)
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Postby dks » Mon Jun 12, 2006 3:39 am

Hey, you guys think we could all pester someone to be extras in the film?? We could maybe all get over to England at the same time by 2008. Huh? What do you think?? Except Denise would end up freaking out and start sobbing/breaking down because it would seem to real...cuckoo, I tell you. :roll:
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Postby Saturn » Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:49 am

Nice idea - I'd rather star in it to be honest [as Severn perhpas?] but being an extra would be good.

I think on a lot of films now instead of being paid for their work, extras actually pay for the pleasure of appearing on screen, especially in the big-budget Holywood films.

As this will be a smaller budget production I think that they will need all the help they can get.

Maybe we can work as crew - I've made a short film and know a little of what it can be like on set.

Then again even if you did get a part as an extra you could still end up on the cuttting-room floor :cry:

And I would be blubbering as much as anyone Denise :lol:
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Postby dks » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:27 pm

Nut-house, I tell you, is where I belong...after being even on the cutting room floor--I'd start leaving a space next to me at the dinner table--you know, for him...ahhh, like college days...

Wha? Oh. Sorry. You didn't hear that, did you?

:wink: :lol: :shock: :oops:
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Postby Malia » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:28 pm

dks wrote:Nut-house, I tell you, is where I belong...after being even on the cutting room floor--I'd start leaving a space next to me at the dinner table--you know, for him...ahhh, like college days...

Wha? Oh. Sorry. You didn't hear that, did you?

:wink: :lol: :shock: :oops:



Didn't *hear* it, but I read it! ;)
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Postby Saturn » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:28 pm

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Postby dks » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:31 pm

You all took me for serious...

:lol: :lol:

8)

:shock:
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Postby dks » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:32 pm

No no no--

never happened. never, I tell you.

:lol: :lol:
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Postby Saturn » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:33 pm

When you go to the cinema please tell me you buy ONE ticket....
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Postby dks » Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:30 pm

:? Alright, smarty.

No, I usually buy 4--me and my boys. Keats wouldn't be interested in Pixar movies or "Napoleon Dynamite."

:lol:
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