Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bright Star (Rhoades)

“Bright Star” Makes Poetic Appearance
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Okay, I’m going to mix my college course in English Romanticism Poetry with pop culture – something not many film critics are apt to do. But this new film about poet John Keats reminds me of Episode 31 of TV’s “Star Trek,” a story titled “Who Mourns for Adonais?”

That title is a literary reference derived from line 415 of a pastoral poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats.”

Keats died of tuberculosis at the age of 25, following a hard life, poor reception to his poems, and a failed love affair. Bummer.

“Bright Star” – a romantic drama based on the last three years of Keats’ life – is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema. It depicts the secret love affair between the poet and his next-door neighbor Fanny Brawne.

Written and directed by Jane Campion (she won an Academy Award for “The Piano”), the film takes its name from a line in a sonnet that Keats that wrote about his muse: “Bright star, would I were as steadfast as thou art.”

Ben Whishaw (“Layer Cake,” “I’m Not there”) stars as Keats. Abbie Cornish (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”) co-stars as Fannie. An unlikely pair, we might not have known much about this awkward love affair if it weren’t for 31 letters that Fannie wrote to Keats’ sister.

The relationship was cut short when doctors advised the consumptive poet to move to Italy for its warmer climate. Percy Bysshe Shelley invited Keats to join him and his wife Mary at Pisa, but the ailing man elected to take a house in Rome with his friend John Severn. Ironically, the abode would later become a museum known as the Keats-Shelly Memorial House.

Despite the social rebuff, Shelley remained a fan of Keats works. He said, “I am aware indeed that I am nourishing a rival who will far surpass me….” Upon Keats death in 1821, Shelley penned the “Adonais” elegy, considered one of his finest poems. And when Shelley drowned a year later, a copy of Keats’ poetry was found in his pocket.

The pop culture lesson? Even celebs have idols.
[from Solares Hill]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi -

I think it was Leigh Hunt's poetry in Shelley's pocket.