Friday, February 12, 2010
*Beware a lot of hyperbole and silliness due to writing this at 2am
I've just seen the most exquisitely lovely film I have ever seen and I'm afraid to write about it because I know I will gush. But I don't care. (Even though I've gone and called it a "film" which sounds pretentious.) It's Valentine's weekend and this is the most romantic movie.
Bright Star first appealed to me because all the fancy, smooth buns and long dresses in the trailer reminded me of convention. Abbie Cornish as Franny looked subtle and feminine in the most intriguing way. But the movie completely surpasses other period films. The scenery, the costumes, the characters, and the progression of events, are all natural and beautiful. Absolutely every scene is enchanting and fresh.
Something I really enjoyed was the family interaction. Franny's brother Samuel (played by the impish, love-struck boy from Love Actually - his name was Sam in it as well), and sister Toots were always there in the background as Franny and Keats fall in love. Instead of being obnoxious, it seems right and sweet. They love him too and feel Franny's pain when her heart is breaking. The whole family is quietly included.
I also love Franny's pride in her skill as a seamstress and designer. She boldly wears her frothy, posh hats and glares icicles at anyone who looks down on her for caring about frippery like ribbons and rows of pleated fringe. Somehow it's okay for her to be superficial because she just loves the beauty in detail. Her style is inspiring.
I've just written a ton without ever mentioning what the movie is about. :)
It's about John Keats, poet extraordinaire, and his neighbor Franny Brawne falling in love. Watch the trailer if you're curious.
And here's one of his most famous poems. I like it much more than Bright Star. What matters when one is facing death?
WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love! - then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
I love the scene with the butterflies.
This next bit is from staying up too late.
So, it turns out the director of Bright Star is known for a few other period dramas and twisty feminist work. Her most famous movie is An Angel at my Table which is about New Zealand author, Janet Frame. The movie intrigues me mostly because the main character looks like Carrot Top. Also because I had a recent conversation that went like this (sort of):
me: Let's move to New Zealand.
me: But I'm getting my teaching credential in California. What would I do in New Zealand? Most of what I know to teach is English and British literature. (and I barely know anything about those)
me: I mean, really! Are there any Kiwi authors to even teach and study? Besides, whoever wrote Whale Rider. (another amazing movie!)
Mark: I can't think of any.
me: It seems like Americans, Europeans and Asians are the only people whose writing we study because they were the only ones writing back in the day!
Obviously, and not too surprisingly, I say terribly ignorant, nonsensical things when I am on a rant. Also, back in the day New Zealand was an island of birds. Just birds. Not even animals, snakes, or spiders. It's a young country with more sheep than people. No wonder they aren't as prolific as us.
But, the point is Janet Frame, a chubby red-headed Kiwi author, is famous enough to have her own movie. I should really read her stuff.
Doesn't this look strange and surprising in the best way!?