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In competition: "Bright Star" of Jane Campion

About the film:
On the third day of the Festival, the latest feature in Competition for the Palme d'Or is Bright Star by New Zealand director Jane Campion. A longtime habitué of the Croisette, Campion won the Festival's top award in 1993 with The Piano. Seven years earlier, her short film Skin had been given the Short Film Palme d'Or. At this 62nd Cannes event, Campion returns with the story of a torrid and tragic passion: the early 19th-century love affair between the great English romantic poet John Keats and his neighbor Fanny Brawne. The young actors Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish, still relatively unknown to the general public, give a refreshingly modern performance. The true story is based on a number of sources, including Keats' poems and letters, and a heartfelt biography by Andrew Motion.

"I was incredibly moved by Andrew Motion's book," Campion told us. "I fell in love with their story; I was drawn to the pain and beauty and innocence of their love affair. They were so young… It was a true-life Romeo and Juliet story, well-documented, but one I had not known. I found myself weeping at the end of it. The story is so tragic and tender… The book also connected me to his poetry; I realized he was writing about his life and what he was going through. " For those of you who are curious about where the title, Bright Star, came from, it is the first line of a love sonnet Keats wrote for Fanny Brawne on the flyleaf of his collection of Shakespeare's works.

Press conference:
For the Competition feature Bright Star, director Jane Campion, actors Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish, cinematographer Greig Fraser and producers Jan Chapman and Caroline Hewitt faced off with the international press. Selected excerpts:

Jane Campion on why she chose an historical figure:
I feel I was just really lucky to have stumbled across Andrew Motion’s biography of Keats, and I felt like I had entered another planet, another world…so caught me unaware. The story is so enchanting and so painful and there’s an endless fascination in it.

Ben Whishaw on his familiarity with Keats before the film:
I didn’t know very much about him at all actually, and I think I had a certain prejudice about the romantic poets generally. I didn’t think it was really my cup of tea; I like modern stuff that is short, short lines and blunt. But I’ve grown to love the kind of luxury of his writing, the sensuality of it. Also, when you investigate a person that deeply, you kind of fall in love with them a bit, in learning about his life, in reading his letters…He became kind of irresistible really and inspirational.

On the relationship between sewing and writing:
Jane Campion
I think at that time there wasn’t much opportunity for women to express themselves and all women sewed; they sewed and they waited…It has a kind of rhythm: needle in, pull; needle out, pull, and that for me was poetic.
Abbie Cornish
There’s something very focused, dedicated, concentrated about her doing that. She loves making clothes. For Keats too when he goes into the world of poetry, it’s a place where he’s essentially alone, but there’s a whole world of imagination. I think there is some link there…I remember during rehearsals for the film that Jane said to me, ‘sewing was like the thread of the film.’

Jane Campion on biopics:
Well, this is not one. It’s a story inspired by their story, told from Fanny’s point of view, and it’s a love story using the [Keats’] material and letters. I think a biopic is when they chug along with about six different versions of the character.

Comments (1)

Bright Star - In Theaters Next Friday

I will definitely go see Jane Campion's new film Bright Star when it opens in theaters next Friday (Sept. 18th). The visuals look amazing, and the music is truly haunting. I have always thought Abbie Cornish was a talented actress, and I think this may be the film to push her career even further. Here's a great clip I found from the movie.
Definitely captures the ghostly atmosphere I've come to expect from Campion.


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