I went with several friends tonight to see a movie.
This is about the early 19th c. English romantic poet John Keats, who died so young in Rome.
The movie focuses on the last year or so Keats spent in England before being shipped off to Rome on account of his Tuberculosis. During this time he meets and has a passionate relationship with a neighbor, where he and a friends were renting digs in Hampstead.
The movie’s main character is actually the neighbor, Fanny Brawne, played by Abbie Cornish. I suppose the Academy Award will be given to someone in an unworthy flick, but Cornish will have deserved it.
The film is gorgeous, perfect in period sets and dress. It was very quiet and patient, which I believe might allow the modern person to get something of the sense of the very different rhythm of life lived in that time.
There was not a weak link in the cast.
The director was Jane Campion, who did a marvelous job. As a matter of fact, this film was a good her previous The Piano was dreadful.
The experience comes to revolve around letters Keats wrote to Fanny, which have survived. They are the basis of the depiction of the relationship.
In any event, I recommend that you see Bright Star. It will help to know the works of Keats, but it is not necessary.
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.