- Genre: Drama, Romance
- Running Time: 119 min.
- MPAA Rating: PG
- Director: Jane Campion
- Writer: Jane Campion
- Cast: Paul Schneider, Abbie Cornish, Thomas Sangster, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Samuel Barnett, Samuel Roukin, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Sebastian Armesto, Antonia Campbell-Hughes
Ms. Campion, the only woman to win the top prize in the 62 year history of the CANNES FILM FESTIVAL, returned to the world’s premier cinema fest with BRIGHT STAR, spinning the brief but passionate romance between JOHN KEATS and the love of his short life, girl next door FANNY BRAWNE.
The film – one of 20 competing for the festival’s PALME D’OR, the award JANE CAMPION previously won for 1993’s THE PIANO – is told entirely from the viewpoint of FANNY (ABBIE CORNISH), a spirited neighbour who rises from coquette to soul mate in the eyes of JOHN KEATS (BEN WHISHAW).
“I fell in love with FANNY as much as I did with JOHN KEATS and I think telling the story through FANNY’S eyes was such a brilliant way for me to meet him,” Ms. Campion said today before the film’s CANNES premiere.
“Because we know FANNY fell in love with him and that way, we could fall in love with JOHN KEATS with her.”
BRIGHT STAR follows their relationship from 1818 through JOHN KEATS’ death from tuberculosis at age 25 in 1821. Unsuccessful as a writer while he was alive, he was too poor to formally court FANNY. But they became unofficially engaged as his health failed.
After his death, JOHN KEATS rose to prominence as one of the greatest ENGLISH poets. His works include ODE ON A GRECIAN URN and ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE.
The film intertwines the lovers’ respective creative outlets: poetry and sewing. FANNY designed and made her own clothes. BRIGHT STAR depicts her sewing as painstakingly as it does his passion to write.
“There was something very focused, dedicated, concentrated about her doing that,” ABBIE CORNISH claimed.
“She loves making clothes and I think JOHN KEATS, too, when he goes into the world of poetry, it’s a place where he is essentially on his own but in a whole world of imagination.”
While JOHN KEATS’ name is still familiar, his verse had fallen out of favour among modern readers, including BEN WHISHAW.
“I didn’t really know him very much at all. I had sort of a prejudice about the romantic poets, generally. I didn’t think that they’d be my cup of tea. I thought I liked modern stuff that was sort of short…and short lines and blunt and different. But I’ve grown to love the kind of luxury of his writing and the sensuality of it.”
“He became kind of irresistible, really – and inspirational.”
JANE CAMPION set out to introduce audiences to the little known love affair between JOHN KEATS and FANNY BRAWNE. She also hopes her film might revive modern viewers’ passion for poetry.
“We would love to think that we could help in some way bring people back to poetry, because it’s such a beautiful way to plant a garden in your own soul and mind.”