In-Depth Interview with Director Jane Campion for "Bright Star"

Uploaded on Friday 25 September 2009


From The Piano to In the Cut, writer-director Jane Campion always puts strong women characters at the center. Whether shes a mute woman like Holly Hunters Oscar-winning role in The Piano or Meg Ryans writing professor in In the Cut, Campions heroines are mostly disempowered women living outside mainstream society.

In Bright Star, Campions heroine is Fanny Brawne (the breathtaking Abbie Cornish), a smart, young dressmaker who will do anything if someone tries to break her relationship with the man she loves, the great romantic poet, John Keats (Ben Whishaw).

Inspired by the acclaimed biography of Keats written by Andrew Motion, Campion focuses on the love story between Brawne and Keats. Told through the eyes of the poets love and inspiration, their romance inspired some of the most beautiful love letters ever written. Their correspondence would later scandalize Victorian society.

Told during the last three years in the life of Keats, the unlikely pair started at odds. Keats thinks Brawne is a stylish minx, while she is wholly unimpressed by his literature. But love soon blossoms and inspires Keats to write some of his most brilliant works such as 'Ode on a Grecian Urn,' 'Ode on Melancholy' and 'Ode to a Nightingale.'

I have the feeling as if I were dissolving, Keats tells Brawne. Indeed, the young lovers are swept into powerful, uncontrollable sensations. Charles Armitage Brown (Paul Schneider affecting a believable Scottish accent), Keats friend and benefactor, tries to separate the lovers away. Perhaps due to jealousy or Brown is just overprotective of Keats. I commend Campion for not offering a clear answer.

Written by Campion herself, the films tone is like a ballad. The narrative is told in verses beginning with the couples involvement all the way to their problems. Yet, the director uses restraints in telling the story as if to mimic Brawnes own life limitations.

The greatest line in the film is told when Keats confronts Brown and says, There is a holiness to the hearts affections. Campion clearly understands the romantic impulse of the human heart. And it helps that her leading actors, Cornish and Whishaw, have incredible chemistry.

Bright Star is also visually splendid. Cinematographer Greig Fraser lovingly shot each frame to replicate the films romantic theme. Whether its Keats atop a tree or Brawne walking in a snow-filled night, you will be drawn into the powerful, hypnotic look of the movie.

If youre looking to know more about the life of Keats, the poet, you may be disappointed with Bright Star. But if you want to dig deeper into the mind of Keats, the lover, then you will enjoy the film. It celebrates the frailties of love and sorrow.

Bright Star reveals a great untold love story about one of literatures tragic figures. Its a romantic film told with an intriguing feminist angle. In the end, only death can separate Keats and Brawne, but their love lives on to this day.

Bright Star gets 3 ½ kisses

The great director talked about:

Her inspiration for the film "Bright Star"
Why she waited long before making a follow-up film for 2003's "In the Cut"
She almost quit the business of making movies!
Her strong women characters
Making a film based on her script vs. someone else's script
She explains the line "there's a holiness to the heart's affections"
Her romantic impulse
Working with Abbie Cornish
How's Anna Paquin?

This is a fun, in-depth interview. If you love movies, you'll love this :)



Language: English

Length: 11:00

Country: United States