Bright Star: A Thing of Beauty

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever….” ~ John Keats

Bright Star, the 2009 film depicting poet Keats’ relationship with Fanny Brawne (and directed by Jane Campion), is an absolute cinematic thing of beauty. Truly, I don’t even know where to start; every single frame is a work of art. The butterfly scene in particular is almost unbearably exquisite. And the scene with the curtain? Breathtaking.

Does it count as a spoiler if I use words such as “heart-breaking” to describe this movie? (Personally, with 2 degrees in English lit, I’m afraid I already knew from the get-go where this film was heading… but was dreading the conclusion nonetheless!) It’s one of English literature’s great tragedies – along with the achingly untimely demise of Wilfred Owen in WWI, a single week before Armistice – that Keats did not live longer, but one of its triumphs that in a few short years (the ones he spent in love with Fanny) he should have produced some of the most profoundly beautiful lines in the language, as exemplified by those following:

At length burst in the argent revelry, 
    With plume, tiara, and all rich array, 
    Numerous as shadows haunting fairily 
    The brain, new-stuff’d, in youth, with triumphs gay 
    Of old romance. These let us wish away, 
    And turn, sole-thoughted, to one lady there, 
    Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day, 
    On love, and wing’d St Agnes’ saintly care, 
As she had heard old dames full many times declare.

So let us now indeed turn to one lady (Fanny, as played by Abbie Cornish), with her “plume, tiara, and all rich array”. The array could not, indeed, be much richer than it is in Bright Star… the costumes are superlatively beautiful. Without question, this is some of the most magnificent costuming work I’ve ever seen in a film. Whether it’s all 100% historically accurate in terms of cut, colour, and style I do not have sufficient expertise to say – but it hardly matters, because like the scenes themselves, each individual costume is a work of art:

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~ costume design: Janet Patterson ~

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2 thoughts on “Bright Star: A Thing of Beauty

  1. Thanks for a marvellous post on this film with such great costumes! Your writeup is also a thing of beauty!

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