I've been wanting to see this film for such a long time, and now that I finally have, I am far from disappointed. Bright Star, directed by Jane Campion, tells the story of the three year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne.
Campion takes a different approach to the story, than what was initially expected. It would have been easier to focus on Keats and his writing, while including the relationship as the focus of his inspiration. Instead the story is seen through the eyes, perspective, and development of Fanny's character. Because very little is known of Fanny, (Keats letters to her are all that survived) Campion is free to make Fanny the focus of the story, without sacrificing history. Fanny is made into a 19th century fashionista (this makes the costumes in this films especially beautiful, and unusual), and the film opens to Fanny at work on her latest outfit rather than the obvious alternative (Keats scribbling away at his work desk).
The film is an absolute delight for the senses. Beautifully filmed, Campion captures the intensity of John and Fanny's feelings for each other. Subtle touching of hands, love notes shoved underneath doors, ears pressed against walls in hopes of hearing each other on the opposite side. Beautiful stuff! While it is sometimes unclear when the couple starts to fall in love, or why, (Fanny is a bit irritating, what precisely Keats loves about her is a mystery!) one thing is crystal clear; the depth and power of that love.
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.