Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bright Star

Bright star

So instead of the usual grumbling, something positive.

I wasn’t going to go.
1) I don’t like films that claim to be about “historical characters’ . Usually the writers take liberties with the truth in the name of entertainment. It really doesn’t matter if you give Beowulf and African father, he’s fictional. But a film that pretends to be about about William Wallace, the real human being, might as well be about a character called Jock McJockstrap.
2) There's a trend to write biographies of the partners of famous people. Who'd remember Gilbert Imlay if he hadn't been involved with Mary Wollstonecraft? Isabel Burton was the subject of a huge biography which couldn't avoid the fact that if she hadn't married Sir Richard no one would have remembered her outside her family and friends. All the evidence suggests Fanny Brawne is only memorable because her boyfriend was one John Keats.
3) I’d read a review of Bright Star that discussed Campion’s career in terms of making films about strong women struggling with patriarchal oppression. There’s no way, given the evidence , you can interpret Fanny Brawne in those terms.

However, who wouldn’t want to meet the Keats of the letters, or the hero of Gitting’s biography? Or see the settings made real.

So orf I went.

And bloody good it is too. For once I don't have to worry about possible fall out in the class room. (No dotty, there were no Female actors in Shakespeare's time, yes, i know you saw a film with one in but it wasn't true....)

It looks beautiful. The script is good (Keats’s lines are often taken from his letters) and although after an hour I was wondering how it was going to end (Please god don’t let him make a miraculous recovery, please god do not let them go to bed) she pulls it off beautifully.
So she exonerates Fanny a little. Brown and Keats accuse of her flirting but you don’t see her doing this. She does catch the lighter side of Keats’s character; this was no brooding tortured Romantic parody but Junkets, the man who delighted in company and playing silly game. The acting is very good. From the two main leads all through the cast, especially the moppet who plays toots.
And if it makes people pick up the letters or the poems to find out more, it can only be good.

1 comment:

Anne Gilbert said...

It is really hard to make films about historical characters, let alone the people they "partnered" with. Most of them unfortunately take so many liberties with the actual history, that they turn out to be of the "Jock McJockstrap" type, or they've got lots of pretty costumes and sets, but not much else. I've heard Bright Star acclaimed elsewhere; I'm not really that interested in Keats, however, so I didn't see it. Also, I don't particularly like things where one character moons and mooons and moons about another character, but if "character development" is what you want, apparently there was a lot of it here. In any case, the bottom line is, I'm rather leery of films about historical characters or those close to them. A lot can go wrong in their making, but it's nice that this one worked out well for you.
Anne G