Now that the Academy Awards are over and one of my favorite movies was shut out (and only nominated in one category), I want to alert everyone to see Bright Star, a lovely film directed by Jane Campion (The Piano, 1993). I know it’s not research, but we all love to watch movies. And there have been some very good ones lately – meaning in the last couple of years, such as The Duchess, and The Young Victoria (which did win one Oscar). Bright Star is the name of a poem John Keats (1795-1821) wrote to his true love, Fanny Brawne. Any lover of England, poetry, fashion, or film should adore it, though the ending is sad. And it has not a single explosion (except of emotion), not a vampire nor avatar, not a chase scene, no shooting, and no noisy soundtrack. It is beautiful and true.
The stars, Ben Whishaw as Keats and Abbie Cornish as Fanny, are excellent, as is Paul Schneider as Keats’ friend and mentor Charles Brown. The whole cast measures up admirably.
Although I am far from an expert on Keats, I found the film quite moving. And historically accurate, with beautiful settings and costumes. Except for one thing. As a good friend remarked, why didn’t they film it at the actual house where it all happened in Hampstead, just north of London? I visited the Keats House
years ago and it is a treat! Here is the real house that Keats and Fanny’s family lived in.
But, there must have been a good reason the producers used a different house, far from the congestion of Greater London. In Keats’ time, Hampstead would have been quite rural.
Perhaps we research nuts are too picky!! The Hyde, Bedfordshire, right, is where Bright Star
was filmed instead.
Bright Star was nominated for the coveted Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival; its only Oscar nomination was for costume design. It has won several other awards and was nominated for many more, but it is a quiet and intelligent film, not the kind of flashy star-studded production that pushes Hollywood’s buttons and pulls in millions at the box office. But don't miss it. Victoria