Thoughts on Bright Star: Between romantic poetry and Jane Austen
Having seen Jane Campion's The Piano some years since, I knew this was not going to be steamy fast-moving romance. The music of the opening credits sets the tone of the film, and that never wavers: quiet, dignified, beautiful and poignet.
Paltrow's Emma, and I couldn't help comparing Margaret/Toots (Edie Martin), Fanny's sister, to another Margaret in Sense and Sensibility. (Is it just me, seeing Jane Austen everywhere, but doesn't the still on the left remind you of Jane Austen's portrait?) The restraint of the lovers is also reminiscent of Jane Austen, though there is no smouldering Mr Darcy here. This is where the film departs from Austen. The romance itself is not played out Jane Austen style. After all, it's about a Romantic poet, and the poetry speaks for itself
In this sense the film captures beautifully the often confusing tension in Regency England between the new wave of Romanticism -- the cult of nature and stormy passion -- and the ideals of Reason and Wit which were still highly valued by society, and which Jane Austen embodies to a large extent.
Most moving, I thought, was how the film doesn't shy away from showing the raw and absolute nature of poverty. However much we might want the lovers to be together, we know that the grinding poverty John Keats faces is a destructive force, and very different from the genteel 'poverty' Fanny is used to.
A film well worth seeing for the wonderful way it converts the Romantic sensibility into images, and for a love story that will cost you a box of tissues.
Click to see a trailer of Bright Star.