Must Watch Movie: Bright Star

For the first Must Watch Movie Monday we get poetic with Bright Star

Bright Star by John Keats

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.

I’m writing this as I’m listening to Other Lives, so if it’s a bit dramatic, blame them.

Warning: Spoilers!

Based on the true-life love affair between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, the 2009 film Bright Star is undoubtedly worthy enough to be compared to the likes of any Jane Austen novel. Directed by Jane Chapman (The Piano) and starring Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish, Bright Star is the story of love, loss, and separation.

Taking place in 1818 England, the film opens as regarded fashionista Fanny Brawne is visiting a friend with her mother, brother Samuel, and sister Margaret. The oldest of the three children, Fanny begins her journey as a quick wit, but self-absorbed girl. Out of place and forced into tranquility, Fanny only thinks about the superficial, until she is introduced to John Keats. Initially, their meeting is strained. She does not know what to make of Keats, yet he is immediately taken with her. He is curious about how she perceives him and Fanny is curious as to whether he is an “idiot” or not based on his poetry.

After reading some of his poems, Fanny begins to grow a fondness for Keats, inciting her to ask him to teach her poetry. Keats says this about poetry, “A poet is not at all poetical. He is the most unpoetical thing in existence. He has no identity. He is continually filling some other body, the sun and moon.”

At this time Keats was living with his best friend Charles Brown. As an arrogant poet, he held a frightful demand over Keats. He believed that Fanny and all women, for that matter, were poison only out to retract a man’s freedom. Brown believing that Fanny was falsely learning about poetry just to toy with Keats, he tries to separate the two. ” I hope that the cost of the lesson will not be the poet,” he states.

Brown’s attempts at separation halt as Fanny and her family move into the same house as Brown and Keats. Only strengthening their bond, the two hide their love.  Brown complains that no work can be done with Fanny around. Keats protests – she inspires him.

Resembling an Edward and Bella like romance, Fanny and Keats are forbidden to love one another, while the need they have for each other overcomes all obstacles they face.

Just as the two start their relationship, Keats tells Fanny that he and Brown must leave for the summer. She is brokenhearted and she tumbles into a deep depression. Fanny waits and waits for a letter, yet her wish is not fulfilled. Eventually, Keats writes her, citing his devotion to her:

“I almost wish we were butterflies and lived but three summer days. Three such days with you, I could fill with more delight than 50 common years could ever contain.”

Her mother, not entirely pleased by the situation, argues against the correspondence.

Fanny: “When I don’t hear from him, it’s as if I died. As if the air is sucked out from my lungs and I’m left desolate. But when I receive a letter, I know our world is real. It’s the one I care for.”

Later, Brown returns without Keats, yet soon after, he arrives and gives Fanny an engagement ring. They are constantly told that they can not afford to marry, yet still believe that one day they will.

Months go by, and Keats returns from a trip to London dreadfully sick. Brown refuses to let Fanny see Keats for fear that it would upset him.

Keats does not get well. Brown is unable to care for him, so his friends decide that it is best for him to leave for Italy. Fanny ultimately decides that she has to go with him, while others continue to tell her whats best for her. But, Keats keeps her away.

A few days later, Keats is discovered by Margaret lying in their garden.

Keats: “I thought my heart was breaking.”

The family takes care of him, while he awaits to leave for Italy. He knows he wont return. Fanny refuses to accept the outcome. The two say their goodbyes. They talk about how their lives should be and how it was a “hopeless hope.” He leaves.

Only weeks later, Brown returns with news of Keats’ death at the age of 25. Emotionally Fanny dies and refuses to take off Keats’ ring.

“Keats died believing himself a failure. Today he is regarded as one of the greatest romantic poets.”

I absolutely loved this movie. You’ll need tissues after, so be prepared. Bright Star is, in my opinion, even better than Pride & Prejudice (Keira Knightley version). Ben Whishaw is captivating, charming, and enchanting as John Keats. He has that British elegance that is perfect for the role. Unlike, other period movies, this one always held my attention. It has the heart of Pride & Prejudice while having the romance of Twilight. Perfect chick-flick.

Movie Rating: A


See you on Wednesday! – Kim

Have you seen Bright Star? What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments!

For more Kim the FanGirl follow the blog on Twitter @kimthefangirl and on Facebook

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