When I read the synopsis of this film in the paper, I knew it was for me. The story of a poet and his love affair with a pure-hearted young woman in the midst of a creative slump. The girl, next to penniless and of no position in society, lived with her widowed mother and two younger siblings and often visited an aunt, who shared a house with a Scottish blunder of a man, according to the film’s interpretation. This man, financed John Keat’s lifestyle so he could cash in on the inspired mind of the young poet. When the two lovers fell in love to the aching point, John became ill. His illness brought him to an early demise and his young lover was left to walk the “Heath” reciting Keat’s poem, written for her, “Bright Star”, never to marry again.
What is so striking to me about this film, is the interpretation. The wind blowing through the curtains, the beautiful frocks Fanny stitches and creates, and the simplicity of life. Joy was found in being among each other. The company of another made for the most explicit enjoyment, along with capturing butterflies, climbing trees and smelling flowers. Life was short and precious and everyone knew it. There was no pride of immortality or thinking that we created ourselves to live a life of pleasure. Rather, the feeling one gets is utter vulnerability throughout the whole movie. The widowed mother, the star-crossed lovers, the aunt, the maid (who becomes pregnant at the hands of the scrappy Scotsman) and even Fanny’s brother, who watches over her as her “accompanied” male throughout the movie. (This guy was the eldest sibling in the first “Nanny McFee”, all grown up, and yet the cousin of Hugh Grant!)
My heart ached like a tooth after watching this movie. Although I am a big sap, this movie’s simplicity and beauty brings to life the reality of the 18th and 19th century motifs of Jane Austin’s characters, subject to their position in society. My favorite part? When the scrappy Scotsman all but admits to impregnating the maid, and Keats says to him casually (as a friend tries) “Help yourself so easily, do you?” A moment of truth: one man’s pleasure over another (wo)man’s dignity.