Bright Star, a movie by Jane Campion
In the three years before his untimely death in 1821, John Keats was in love with Fanny Brawne: he saw her as "the very symbol of beauty, the reconciliation between real life and his poetic". Although there are those who say that it is impossible to write well while in the throes of deep emotion (Thomas Mann for example), Keats probably needed this emotional life in order to flower as a poet: his last poems are often said to be his very best.
This movie shows these last three years, although the primary point of view is that of Fanny: we are never with Keats without her, and when he goes away (to the Isle of Wight and then, ultimately, to Italy) we stay in Hampstead with Fanny. Indeed, there are a couple of suggestions made that Fanny is the Bright Star of the title, and for Keats she probably was, but is she the Bright Star of the poem?
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.
It seems more like he himself wants to be the Bright Star, which given his illness and the death of his brother at about the time he wrote it, makes sense.
Anyway, the movie starts with Fanny, we see her at her work in which she takes a good deal of pride and seems to be very skilled
Poor old Keats: at about half an hour in, he says he is not sure if he has the right feelings towards women, is suspicious of his feelings, is attracted to Fanny without knowing why, says "all women confuse me" has in reality only ever loved his sister.
This idea of Keats having no money is a constantly repeated motif: he and Fanny's mother seem agreed that since Keats can't provide for Fanny, they cannot marry. Mum thinks that, really, they should not spend so much time together, as people are talking. Keats' apparent best friend, John Brown, also thinks they should be apart, but his concern is that she will interfere with his writing.
He might have his own aspirations where Fanny is concerned: although he tends to run her down and joke at her expense (such as her liking of Milton's rhymes in Paradise Lost: he later makes the point there are no rhymes), he does send an ill-advised valentine, which seems to catalyse things between Fanny and Keats.
But this episode makes things clear for Keats: he talks in terms of a holiness of the heart's affections and they take on the quality of an established item from that time on, taking nice walks on the heath and doing what comes naturally.
The record of Fanny's appearance has her as blue eyed, sallow, somewhat thin in the face - Abbie Cornish doesn't look much like her,