Bright Star

New Zealand director Jane Campion brings her own poetic sensibility to the brief, desperate romance between John Keats and his neighbour Fanny Brawne.

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Introduction

“While no film can hope to take you inside the process by which these poems were made, Ms. Campion allows you to hear them spoken aloud as if for the first time.”
A.O. Scott, The New York Times, 2009

The relationship between John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) began in 1819, two years before the poet’s death from tuberculosis. One of the achievements of Jane Campion’s picture is to render this romance with an urgency not typically associated with either costume drama nor films about poetry.

The love story isn’t used to explain what Keats wrote in that period. Instead Campion is interested in the point where life and art become indivisible, and her stylistic choices are modelled on this idea. Sound and song spill over from one lovingly detailed scene to the next, while Greig Fraser’s fluid cinematography takes its cue from Keats, who clambers high above the forest floor, or reflects on a dream in which he is floating above the treetops.

Bright Star was Jane Campion’s third 19th century-set costume drama, following The Piano (1993) and the Henry James adaptation The Portrait of a Lady (1996).

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