Monday, February 08, 2010

speaking of Ben Whishaw

"Bright Star" is now available from iTunes - I immediately downloaded it as soon as I saw that. And so I had the luxury of viewing all my favorite scenes several times.

The picture above is a screen cap from a favorite scene, where the young men of the town - one of them refers to them as the "Hampstead Heathens" - put on a concert. I was pleased to see in the credits that Ben Whishaw actually did sing in the chorus. And I got to hear again his reciting of Keat's Ode to a Nightingale over the credits as well.

What a wonderful piece of film-making is "Bright Star" - from the attention to the ordinary details of early 19th century England to the wonderful performances to the heart-rending reality of poor John Keats' early death (at 25). And also, something dear to my heart: the solace of poetry in the face of romantic anguish and desolation. The final scene has Fanny wandering the woods grieving and longing for Keats, reciting his poem "Bright Star" like a prayer.

Keats was quite opinionated on the subject of poetry, which really doesn't come through clearly in the movie, but at one point he explains to Fanny - and the quote comes from one of his letters on the subject:

"A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore; it's to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out. It is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery."

Well said, Keats.

When I compare a movie like this to some of the stupid movies in the world - especially ones that are pointless, derivative exercises in degradation, and to make the degradation absolute, the crass orcish filmmakers find it expedient to exploit actors and mock their professionalism in order to generate pure effluvia - the contrast could not be starker. Those movies are hideous, while "Bright Star" is beautiful.

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever" said John Keats.

Well said, Keats.