Bright Star (film)

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Bright Star
Bright star.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jane Campion
Produced by Jan Chapman
Caroline Hewitt
Written by Jane Campion
Starring Ben Whishaw
Abbie Cornish
Paul Schneider
Kerry Fox
Thomas Sangster
Music by Mark Bradshaw
Cinematography Greig Fraser
Edited by Alexandre de Franceschi
Production
company
Distributed by Apparition (USA)
Warner Bros. (UK/France)
Release date
  • 15 May 2009 (2009-05-15) (Cannes)
  • 6 November 2009 (2009-11-06) (United Kingdom)
Running time
119 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Australia
France
Language English
French
Budget $8.5 million
Box office $14.4 million

Bright Star is a 2009 British-French-Australian biographical fiction romantic drama 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, it was directed by Jane Campion, who wrote the screenplay inspired by Andrew Motion's biography of Keats; Motion served as a script consultant on the film.[1][2] The film was in the main competition at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, and was first shown to the public on 15 May 2009,[3] the film's title is a reference to a sonnet by Keats titled "Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art", which he wrote while he was with Brawne.

Plot[edit]

In 1818 Hampstead, the fashionable Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) is introduced to poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) through the Dilke family. The Dilkes occupy one half of a double house, with Charles Brown (Paul Schneider) occupying the other half. Brown is Keats' friend, roommate, and associate in writing.

Fanny's flirtatious personality contrasts with Keats' notably more aloof nature, she begins to pursue him after her siblings Samuel and Toots obtain his book of poetry "Endymion". Her efforts to interact with the poet are fruitless until he witnesses her grief for the loss of his brother Tom. Keats begins to open up to her advances while spending Christmas with the Brawne family, he begins giving her poetry lessons, and it becomes apparent that their attraction is mutual. Fanny is nevertheless troubled by his reluctance to pursue her, for which her mother (Kerry Fox) surmises, "Mr. Keats knows he cannot like you, he has no living and no income."

It is only after Fanny receives a valentine from Brown that Keats passionately confronts them and asks if they are lovers. Brown sent the valentine in jest, but he warns Keats that Fanny is a mere flirt playing a game. Fanny is hurt by Brown's accusations and by Keats' lack of faith in her; she ends their lessons and leaves. The Dilkes move to Westminster in the spring, leaving the Brawne family their half of the house and six months rent. Fanny and Keats then resume their interaction and fall deeply in love, the relationship comes to an abrupt end when Brown departs with Keats for his summer rental, where Keats may earn some money. Fanny is heartbroken, though she is comforted by Keats' love letters. When the men return in the autumn, Fanny's mother voices her concern that Fanny's attachment to the poet will hinder her from being courted. Fanny and Keats secretly become engaged.

Keats contracts tuberculosis the following winter, he spends several weeks recovering until spring. His friends collect funds so that he may spend the next winter in Italy, where the climate is warmer, after Brown impregnates a maid and is unable to accompany Keats. Keats manages to find residence in London for the summer, but he is taken in by the Brawne family following an attack of his illness. When his book sells with moderate success, Fanny's mother gives him her blessing to marry Fanny once he returns from Italy, the night before he leaves, he and Fanny say their tearful goodbyes in privacy. Keats dies in Italy the following February of complications from his illness, just as his brother Tom did earlier in the film.

In the last moments of the film, Fanny cuts her hair in an act of mourning, dons black attire, and walks the snowy paths that Keats had walked many times, it is there that she recites the love sonnet that he had written for her called "Bright Star" as she grieves the death of her lover.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In addition to "Bright Star" several other poems are recited in the film, including "La Belle Dame sans Merci" and "Ode to a Nightingale". Both Campion and Whishaw completed extensive research in preparation for the film. Many of the lines in the script are taken directly from Keats' letters.[4] Whishaw, as well, learned how to write with a quill and ink during filming, the letters that Fanny Brawne receives from Keats in the film were actually written by Whishaw in his own hand.

Janet Patterson, who has worked with Campion for over 20 years, served as both costume designer and production designer for the film.[5]

The Hyde House and Estate in Hyde, Bedfordshire, substituted for the Keats House in Hampstead. Campion decided that the Keats House (also known as Wentworth Place) was too small and "a little bit fusty",[6] some filming also took place at Elstree Studios.[7]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The film garnered positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 82% out of 153 professional critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 7.2. "Jane Campion's direction is as refined as her screenplay, and she gets the most out of her cast – especially Abbie Cornish – in this understated period drama."[8] The film also holds an 81/100 on Metacritic.[9] Mary Colbert of SBS awarded the film five stars out of five. "If Campion intended to inspire an appreciation and rediscovery of Keats' poetry," she writes, "she has not only succeeded but herself created an artistic monument to his life, love, poetry and soul." Craig Mathieson stated in the same review that Bright Star is Jane Campion’s "best work since The Piano, her epochal 1993 masterpiece." [10]

Poet and scholar Stanley Plumly, the author of Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography (W.W. Norton, 2008), wrote of the film's writing and direction: "Jane Campion has understood the richly figurative in Keats’ life without sacrificing the literal wealth of its texture, she has evoked the mystery of his genius without giving up the reality of its dailiness."[11]

Box office[edit]

Bright Star grossed $3,110,560 at the box office in Australia.[12]

Awards[edit]

Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Award
(2010 AFI Awards)
AFI Members' Choice Award Jan Chapman & Caroline Hewitt Nominated
Best Film Nominated
Best Direction Jane Campion Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Actress Abbie Cornish Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Kerry Fox Nominated
Best Cinematography Greig Fraser Won
Best Editing Alexandre de Franceschi Nominated
Best Original Music Score Mark Bradshaw Nominated
Best Production Design Janet Patterson Won
Best Costume Design Won
Academy Award Best Costume Design Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists EDA Award for Most Beautiful Film Won
EDA Award for Best Supporting Actor Paul Schneider Nominated
EDA Female Focus Award - Women's Image Award Jane Campion Nominated
EDA Female Focus Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Film Industry Nominated
EDA Female Focus Award for Best Woman Director Nominated
EDA Female Focus Award for Best Woman Screenwriter Won
ACS Award Cinematographer of the Year Greig Fraser Won
ASE Award Best Editing in a Feature Film Alexandre de Franceschi Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Costume Design Janet Patterson Nominated
British Independent Film Awards Best Director Jane Campion Nominated
Best Actress Abbie Cornish Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Kerry Fox Nominated
Best Technical Achievement Greig Fraser (For cinematography) Won
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Jane Campion Nominated
César Award Best Foreign Film Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Cinematography Greig Fraser Nominated
Best Actress Abbie Cornish Nominated
Chlotrudis Award Nominated
CinEuphoria Awards Best Actress - International Competition Won
Best Costume Design - International Competition Janet Patterson Won
Top Ten of the Year - International Competition Jane Campion Won
Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Costume Design Janet Patterson Nominated
Denver Film Critics Society Award Best Actress Abbie Cornish Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Award Best Film Jane Campion Nominated
Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association Dorian Award for Film of the Year Nominated
Heartland Film Festival Truly Moving Sound Award Jane Campion Won
Houston Film Critics Society Award Best Actress Abbie Cornish Nominated
Inside Film Award Best Cinematography Greig Fraser Nominated
Best Editing Alexandre de Franceschi Nominated
Best Sound Craig Butters Nominated
John Dennison Nominated
Tony Vaccher Nominated
Best Production Design Janet Patterson Won
International Cinephile Society Awards Best Picture Nominated
Best Cinematography Greig Fraser Nominated
Best Actress Abbie Cornish 2nd Place
IMOA Award Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Awards Best British Film of the Year Nominated
Best Actress Abbie Cornish Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Awards 3rd Place
Best Supporting Actor Paul Schneider Won
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Costume Design Janet Patterson Won
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Abbie Cornish 2nd Place
Best Supporting Actor Paul Schneider Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Director Jane Campion Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Actress Abbie Cornish Nominated
Village Voice Film Poll Best Supporting Actor Paul Schneider Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Abbie Cornish Won
Best Movie by a Woman Jane Campion Nominated

Soundtrack[edit]

Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack for Bright Star digitally (iTunes and Amazon Digital) on 15 September 2009 and in stores on 13 October 2009. The film's soundtrack features original music by Mark Bradshaw with dialogue from the film voiced by Cornish and Whishaw.[13][14]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Negative Capability" – 3:55
  2. "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" – 2:28
  3. "Return" – 0:58
  4. "Human Orchestra" – 1:48
  5. "Convulsion" – 0:52
  6. "Bright Star" – 1:49
  7. "Letters" – 3:49
  8. "Yearning" – 2:24
  9. "Ode to a Nightingale" – 5:24

Book of Love Letters and Poems[edit]

A collection of Keats's love letters and selected poems was published in 2009 as a companion to the motion picture, entitled Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne. The 144-page book was published by Penguin and includes an introduction written by Campion.[15]

Anecdotes[edit]

Composer Mark Bradshaw can be seen in the film as the conductor while the men choir performs the track Human Orchestra composed by Bradshaw himself.

It's on set that actor Ben Whishaw who plays John Keats and Mark Bradshaw met. Since the shooting, they are a couple.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Phillips, "Talking Pictures" on chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  2. ^ movies.yahoo.com Archived 27 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Bright Star". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  4. ^ Jane Beal, PhD "Bright Star" http://thepoetryplace.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/bright-star/
  5. ^ McElheny, Meghan. "Five minutes with Bright Star costume designer Janet Patterson: Editors' Blog". Wmagazine.com. Archived from the original on 24 January 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2010. 
  6. ^ Anita Singh (15 May 2009). "Cannes 2009: film charts John Keats' romance with Fanny Brawne – in Luton". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "Elstree Studios – Film and TV Search Bright Star". Elstreefilmstudios.co.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2010. 
  8. ^ Bright Star. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Bright Star Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 26, 2017. 
  10. ^ Colbert, Mary; Mathieson, Craig. "Bright Star (review)". SBS. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  11. ^ http://poemsoutloud.net/columns/archive/bright_stars/
  12. ^ Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  13. ^ "Bright Star Soundtrack". Fanbolt.Com. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2010. 
  14. ^ "Bright Star Soundtrack CD". Cduniverse.com. Retrieved 8 September 2010. 
  15. ^ "Bright Star – John Keats – Penguin Group (USA)". Us.penguingroup.com. 16 September 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2010. 

External links[edit]