Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Review - Bright Star

I love going to film festivals, especially when they are playing really great movies. While living in Taiwan I was fortunate enough to make friends with probably the biggest film buff I have ever met or ever will meet - the lovely Nikita. Anyway, because of Nikita, I was fully informed of all the film festivals that were happening in Taiwan. And it was during The Golden Horse Film Festival - Taiwan's national film festival - that I went to see the movie Bright Star. I absolutely adored it and recently decided that Luke had to see it as well.

Bright Star is a 2009 film based on the last three years of the life of poet John Keats and his romantic relationship with Fanny Brawne. It stars Ben Whishaw as Keats and Abbie Cornish as Fanny. The film is a British/Australian/French co-production - talk about multi-national. The title of the film comes from Keats' poem "Bright Star":

Bright star, would I were steadfast 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 swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever — or else swoon to death.

To be perfectly honest, I've always wanted to be more appreciative of poetry than I actually am. However, I found that this film gave me a new appreciation of what poetry is all about. In the movie John Keats states that: "A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving into a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore but to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out, it is a experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept the mystery." I found this concept very useful, as I find myself trying to dissect poetry rather than purely enjoy it, perhaps due to my days of studying literature in high school.

The dialogue in this film is particularly beautiful, mainly due to Keats' poems and the love letters that he wrote to Fanny. However, the other dialogue is also very tender and witty at times.
I loved the cinematogrophy as well. A lot of the film is shot in the countryside, while the whitewashed walls of Fanny's house also make for some beautiful scenes. But be warned: you will need to keep the box of tissues handy.



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