Bright Star

Bright Star Information

Bright Star is a 2009 British-French-Australian biographical fiction romantic drama film based on the last three years of the life of poet John Keats and his romantic relationship with Fanny Brawne. It stars Ben Whishaw as Keats and Abbie Cornish as Fanny. It was directed by Jane Campion, who wrote the screenplay inspired by Andrew Motion's biography of Keats; Motion served as a script consultant on the film. The film was in the main competition at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, and was first shown to the public on 15 May 2009. The film's title is a reference to a sonnet by Keats titled "Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art", which he wrote while he was with Brawne.


In 1818 Hampstead, the fashionable Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) is introduced to poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) through the Dilke family. The Dilkes occupy one half of a double house, with Charles Brown (Paul Schneider)"?Keats' friend, roommate, and associate in writing"?occupying the other half.

Though Fanny's flirtatious personality contrasts with Keats' notably more aloof nature, she begins to pursue him after she has her siblings, Samuel and Toots, obtain his book of poetry "Endymion". Her efforts to interact with the poet are fruitless until he witnesses her grief for the loss of his brother, Tom. While spending Christmas with the Brawne family, Keats begins to open up to Fanny's advances. Keats begins to give poetry lessons to Fanny, and it becomes apparent that their attraction is mutual. Fanny is nevertheless troubled by Keats' reluctance to pursue her, for which her mother (Kerry Fox) surmises, "Mr Keats knows he cannot like you, he has no living and no income."

It is only after Fanny receives a valentine from Brown that Keats passionately confronts them and asks if they are lovers. Brown, who sent the valentine in jest, warns Keats that Fanny is a mere flirt playing a game. Fanny, hurt by Brown's accusations and by Keats' lack of faith in her, ends their lessons and leaves. It is not until after the Dilkes move to Westminster that spring, leaving the Brawne family their half of the house and six months rent, that Fanny and Keats resume their interaction and fall deeply in love. The relationship comes to an abrupt end when Brown departs with Keats for his summer rental, where Keats may earn some money. Though Fanny is heartbroken, she is comforted by Keats' love letters. When the men return in the autumn, Fanny's mother voices her concern that Fanny's attachment to the poet will hinder her from being courted. Fanny and Keats secretly become engaged.

Keats contracts tuberculosis the following winter. He spends several weeks recovering until spring. His friends collect funds so that he may spend the next winter in Italy, where the climate is warmer. After impregnating a maid, Brown is unable to accompany Keats. Keats manages to find residence in London for the summer, but he is taken in by the Brawne family following an attack of his illness. When his book sells with moderate success, Fanny's mother gives Keats her blessing to marry Fanny once he returns from Italy. The night before he leaves, he and Fanny say their tearful goodbyes in privacy. Keats dies in Italy the following February of complications from his illness, just as his brother Tom did earlier in the film.

In the last moments of the film Fanny cuts her hair in an act of mourning, dons black attire, and walks the snowy paths outside that Keats had walked many times in life. It is there that she recites the love sonnet he had written for her, "Bright Star", as she grieves the death of her lover.


  • Ben Whishaw as John Keats.
    Keats was one of the key figures in the second generation of the Romantic movement despite the fact that his work had been in publication for only four years before his death. During his lifetime his poems were not generally well received by critics and at age 25 he died believing he was a failure. However, his reputation grew and he held significant posthumous influence on many later poets.
  • Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne.
    Like the real life Fanny Brawne, Fanny in the film is a fiery and fashionable eighteen-year-old who spends her time creating dresses, hats, and various other garments. She is also something of a flirt and enjoys attending balls, inducing jealousy in Keats. Though the real life Fanny Brawne went on to marry and have children, she never sold Keats's love letters.They were sold after her death by her children.
  • Paul Schneider as Charles Armitage Brown, Keats' best friend.
  • Kerry Fox as Fanny's mother, a widow.
  • Thomas Sangster as Samuel Brawne, Fanny's younger brother.
  • Edie Martin as Toots, Fanny's younger sister.
  • Antonia Campbell-Hughes as Abigail O'Donaghue Brown, housemaid and mother of Charles Brown's child.
  • Claudie Blakley as Mrs Dilke
  • Gerard Monaco as Charles Dilke
  • Olly Alexander as Tom Keats, Keats' brother
  • Samuel Roukin as John Hamilton Reynolds
  • Amanda Hale as Reynolds' Sister
  • Jonathan Aris as Leigh Hunt
  • Samuel Barnett as Joseph Severn


In addition to "Bright Star" several other poems are recited in the film, including "La Belle Dame sans Merci" and "Ode to a Nightingale". Both Campion and Whishaw completed extensive research in preparation for the film. Many of the lines in the script are taken directly from Keats' letters. Whishaw, as well, learned how to write with a quill and ink during filming. The letters that Fanny Brawne receives from Keats in the film were actually written by Whishaw in his own hand.

Janet Patterson, who has worked with Campion for over 20 years, served as both costume designer and production designer for the film.

The Hyde House and Estate in Hyde, Bedfordshire, substituted for the Keats House in Hampstead. Campion decided that the Keats House (also known as Wentworth Place) was too small and "a little bit fusty". Some filming also took place at Elstree Studios.


Critical response

The film garnered positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 82% out of 153 professional critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 7.2 and the site consensus being: "Jane Campion's direction is as refined as her screenplay, and she gets the most out of her cast - especially Abbie Cornish - in this understated period drama." Mary Colbert of SBS awarded the film five stars out of five, commenting that "If Campion intended to inspire an appreciation and rediscovery of Keats' poetry, she has not only succeeded but herself created an artistic monument to his life, love, poetry and soul." Craig Mathieson, in the same review, hailed Bright Star as "Jane Campion"?s ... best work since The Piano, her epochal 1993 masterpiece."

The film did not go unnoticed in the poetry world. Poet and scholar Stanley Plumly, the author of Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography (W.W. Norton, 2008), wrote of the film's writing and direction: "Jane Campion has understood the richly figurative in Keats"? life without sacrificing the literal wealth of its texture. She has evoked the mystery of his genius without giving up the reality of its dailiness. ... Love, the poems, and Keats"?s poorly diagnosed yet terminal illness all move in parallel, though in Campion"?s film it is love "? made brighter by the intensity of mortality "? that defines her subject. But even passion here is understated, as it must have been in real life "? given the conventions "? for these two intense individuals. The much-reviewed scene in which the would-be lovers, in a bedroom, are speaking back and forth lines from Keats"?s newly composed ballad 'La Belle Dame"?' surely qualifies as flesh-made-word love-making. The scene gorgeously represents what poetry as well as love are about "? the spiritual inseparable from the carnal."

Box office

Bright Star grossed $3,110,560 at the box office in Australia.


Award Category Subject Result
(2010 AFI Awards)
AFI Members' Choice Award Jan Chapman & Caroline Hewitt
Best Film
Best Direction Jane Campion
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actress Abbie Cornish
Best Supporting Actress Kerry Fox
Best Cinematography Greig Fraser
Best Editing Alexandre de Franceschi
Best Original Music Score Mark Bradshaw
Best Production Design Janet Patterson
Best Costume Design
Academy Award Best Costume Design
Alliance of Women Film Journalists EDA Award for Most Beautiful Film
EDA Award for Best Supporting Actor Paul Schneider
EDA Female Focus Award - Women's Image Award Jane Campion
EDA Female Focus Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Film Industry
EDA Female Focus Award for Best Woman Director
EDA Female Focus Award for Best Woman Screenwriter
ACS Award Cinematographer of the Year Greig Fraser
ASE Award Best Editing in a Feature Film Alexandre de Franceschi
BAFTA Award Best Costume Design Janet Patterson
British Independent Film Awards Best Director Jane Campion
Best Actress Abbie Cornish
Best Supporting Actress Kerry Fox
Best Technical Achievement Greig Fraser (For cinematography)
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Jane Campion
Csar Award Best Foreign Film
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Cinematography Greig Fraser
Best Actress Abbie Cornish
Chlotrudis Award
CinEuphoria Awards Best Actress - International Competition
Best Costume Design - International Competition Janet Patterson
Top Ten of the Year - International Competition Jane Campion
Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Costume Design Janet Patterson
Denver Film Critics Society Award Best Actress Abbie Cornish
Evening Standard British Film Award Best Film Jane Campion
Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association Dorian Award for Film of the Year
Heartland Film Festival Truly Moving Sound Award Jane Campion
Houston Film Critics Society Award Best Actress Abbie Cornish
Inside Film Award Best Cinematography Greig Fraser
Best Editing Alexandre de Franceschi
Best Sound Craig Butters
John Dennison
Tony Vaccher
Best Production Design Janet Patterson
International Cinephile Society Awards Best Picture
Best Cinematography Greig Fraser
Best Actress Abbie Cornish
IMOA Award
London Film Critics' Circle Awards Best British Film of the Year
Best Actress Abbie Cornish
National Society of Film Critics Awards
Best Supporting Actor Paul Schneider
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Costume Design Janet Patterson
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Abbie Cornish
Best Supporting Actor Paul Schneider
Satellite Awards Best Film
Best Director Jane Campion
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actress Abbie Cornish
Village Voice Film Poll Best Supporting Actor Paul Schneider
Women Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Abbie Cornish
Best Movie by a Woman Jane Campion


Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack for Bright Star digitally (iTunes and Amazon Digital) on 15 September 2009 and in stores on 13 October 2009. The film's soundtrack features original music by Mark Bradshaw with dialogue from the film voiced by Cornish and Whishaw.

Track listing

  1. "Negative Capability" - 3:55
  2. "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" - 2:28
  3. "Return" - 0:58
  4. "Human Orchestra" - 1:48
  5. "Convulsion" - 0:52
  6. "Bright Star" - 1:49
  7. "Letters" - 3:49
  8. "Yearning" - 2:24
  9. "Ode to a Nightingale" - 5:24

Book of Love Letters and Poems

A collection of Keats's love letters and selected poems, titled Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne, was published in 2009 as a companion to the motion picture. The 144-page book was published by Penguin and includes an introduction written by Campion. The content of the book is as follows:

Letters from John Keats to Fanny Brawne

  • I-IX: Shanklin, Winchester, Westminister
  • X-XXXII: Wentworth Place
  • XXXIII-XXXVII: Kentish Town - Preparing For Italy


  • 'Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art'
  • The Eve of St Agnes
  • A Dream, after reading Dante's Episode of Paola and Francesca
  • La Belle Dame sans Merci. A Ballad
  • Ode to Psyche
  • Ode on Melancholy
  • Ode on Indolence
  • Lamia
  • 'The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!'
  • What can I do to drive away
  • 'I cry your mercy, pity, love - ay, love!'
  • To Fanny
  • 'This living hand, now warm and capable'


  • Sketch of John Keats sleeping (28 January 1821) by Joseph Severn
  • Silhouette of Fanny Brawne, after Augustin Edouart
  • Facsimiles of Keats's handwriting, from his letters to Brawne


Composer Mark Bradshaw can be seen in the film as the conductor while the men choir performs the track Human Orchestra composed by Bradshaw himself.

It's on set that actor Ben Whishaw who plays John Keats and Mark Bradshaw met. Since the shooting, they are a couple.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bright_Star_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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