Bright Star

Directed By: Jane Campion Starring: Ben Whishaw Abbie Cornish

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Romance, Poetry, and Life

on 6/5/2011

I don't recall the last time I saw a true romance movie, though I've watched many so-called. So, I almost passed on this one. However, I had read some of this poet's works and was aware of his life story. And I like historical period pieces. So, I gave this movie a chance and watched the DVD. It is easy to become cynical about romance, and to disdain society’s often-preposterous version of it. Here is a man who wants to write poetry (and thinks himself a failure at it), and a woman who loves him, nevertheless. It is the story of the relationship between Fanny Brawne and John Keats. It is a true story of a true love, a love beyond lust, desire of a nobler kind, and passion with compassion. For anything less is not love at all, but a pathetic parody. Indeed the poet himself says with fervor (to his cynical friend), "There is a holiness to the heart's affections. Know you nothing of that?" The question is well put to us all, especially in today's world, with its violent illusions wherein people often use and abuse one another and know little, if anything, of genuine love -- or even of romance, which is not head games of infatuation, but is rather the sacred Eros of negotiating a covenantal relationship -- respect, honor, commitment. It is this kind of human love that reflects well the Love of Christ for His Church. Naturally, given the setting of the story, the Christian undertone is evident. I would watch this movie again, and I recommend it to everyone. There was a time when language had meaning, love was holy, a poem was a thing of beauty, and romance was a work of art. It can still be so.

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Product Overview

A touching and timeless tale of the passionate romance between english poet john keats and his beloved muse.


Studio Sony
SKU 212967154
UPC 043396334144
UPC 14 00043396334144
Format DVD
Release Date 9/6/2011
Rating Rating
Historic Figures
Love Affairs
Editors Note
Note Jane Campion's literary biopic tells the true story of Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), a 23-year-old Londoner in 1818 whose independent streak manifests itself through an intense interest and love for fashion and dressmaking. Her neighbor, the struggling but gifted young poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw), underestimates her intelligence because he believes she's frivolous, and she, having no interest in literature, seems thoroughly disinterested in him. However, Fanny attempts to help the Keats family when John's brother becomes gravely ill, and in order to express his gratitude John agrees to teach her poetry -- leading Fanny and John to quickly fall deeply and profoundly in love with each other. Although they wish to wed, his lack of finances and his writing partner (Paul Schneider) -- who believes she is nothing more than an unwelcome distraction -- keep the two from marrying.
Film Comment "[Campion] shows us here the beautiful sanctuaries that word and image create together, and the reasons why life requires us -- like Fanny -- to abandon them." 09/01/2009
Box Office 4 stars out of 5 -- "Campion's innate sense of storytelling technique meshes the strands together, all adding up to a study in passion and tragedy that vigorously holds fast to period sensibilities and so keeps an audience firmly in its embrace." 09/18/2009
New York Times "The movie really belongs to Brawne, played with mesmerizing vitality and heart-stopping grace by Abbie Cornish." 09/18/2009
Rolling Stone 3 stars out of 4 -- ?The film, shot by the gifted Greig Fraser, is a thing of beauty to match the snippets of Keats we hear on the soundtrack.? 10/01/2009
Entertainment Weekly ?[A] quiet, luscious, stately meditation....[Cornish delivers a] lovely, openhearted performance...? -- Grade: A- 09/25/2009
Los Angeles Times "[A]n exquisitely done, emotional love story that marries heartbreaking passion to formidable filmmaking restraint....Campion demonstrates her gift for making the dailiness of distant lives vivid and convincing." 09/18/2009 ,Included in Los Angeles Times's "Best Films Of 2009" -- "This is a film that reminds us what a singular voice filmmaker Jane Campion has..." 12/20/2009
Chicago Sun-Times "[A] beautiful, wistful film....What Campion does is seek visual beauty to match Keats' verbal beauty." 09/23/2009
Wall Street Journal ?The production is modest in physical scale, mostly reserved in tone and touchingly simple in design. Yet the effect is exhilarating, and deeply pleasurable.? 09/18/2009
Washington Post "BRIGHT STAR, Jane Campion's rapturous ode to tragic love, radiates beauty that's at once extravagant and spare, which is altogether fitting for its subjects." 09/25/2009
Total Film 4 stars out of 5 -- "Campion sticks close to the facts and relies on the power and emotional poignancy of the situation -- and some superbly sensitive acting -- for the impact of her film." 10/30/2009
Uncut 3 star out of 5 -- "Campion pulls off a challenge that's thwarted generations of filmmakers before her. Pretty and sincere..." 05/01/2010
Jane Campion
Ben Whishaw
Abbie Cornish
Cast & Crew
Paul Schneider - Star
Kerry Fox - Star
Ben Whishaw - Star
Abbie Cornish - Star
Thomas Sangster - Star
Jan Chapman - Producer
Caroline Hewitt - Producer
Jane Campion - Screenwriter
Francois Ivernel - Executive Producer
Cameron McCracken - Executive Producer
Christine Langan - Executive Producer
David M. Thompson - Executive Producer
Greig Fraser - Director of Photography
Mark Bradshaw - Composer
Jane Campion - Director
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2009
UPC 00043396334144
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 119 minutes
Color Color
Aspect Ratio
Anamorphic Widescreen  1.85:1
Oscar (2010) Janet Patterson, Nominee, Best Achievement in Costume Design
Cannes Film Festival (2009) Jane Campion, Nominee, Golden Palm
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review John Keats wasn't meekly posing as a Romantic poet. He was the real thing, and the last born of the group that also included Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron and Shelley. He died at 25 and remains forever young...The great and only love of his life was Fanny Brawne, the daughter of his landlady. He lived with his friend, Charles Brown, and she with her mother, sister and brother in the two halves of a Hampstead cottage so small, it gives meaning to the phrase "living in each other's pockets." Their love was grand and poetic and -- apart from some sweet kisses -- platonic, for he had neither the means nor the health to propose marriage, and they were not moved to violate the moral code of what was not yet quite the Victorian era...Hampstead in those days was a village on the slopes north of London, almost rural, where shepherds could graze their flocks on the public land of Hampstead Heath. Coleridge lived not far way in Highgate, and the two met during their rambles on the heath. To support oneself seems to have been relatively possible, despite Dickens' portraits of poverty at the time. Mrs. Brawne (Kerry Fox) observes to her daughter that he has "no living and no income," the volumes of verse brought in only a few pounds, but when it is time for Keats to live in Italy, he finds the means. It appears that an English gentleman could support himself on air and credit...It is famously impossible for the act of writing to be made cinematic. How long can we watch someone staring at a blank sheet of paper? It is equally unenlightening to show the writer seeing something and dashing off to scribble down impassioned words while we hear him reading them in his mind. Campion knows all this, and knows, too, that without the poetry, John Keats is only a moonstruck young man. How she works in the words is one of the subtle beauties of the film. And over the end credits, Whishaw reads the ode, and you will want to stay.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 9
DVD, Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 1.85:1, Dolby Digital (5.1), English, Subtitled
Product Attributes
Video Format DVD
Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle A fine-boned, luminous tribute to Keats and the sufferings of love.
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Masterfully put-together, made with confidence, intelligence and command.

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Romance, Poetry, and Life on Jun 05, 2011