DOES CAMPION’S BRIGHT STAR SHOW TOO MUCH? Christopher Ricks is a good and important critic, but he had a much different reaction to Jane Campion’s Bright Star than I did. Ricks objects to Campion’s showing images which are in Keats’s poetry. Ricks says: “[I]t is imperative that the pictures within such a film as Bright Star practice one simple unremitting act of self-abnegation: of never being pictures of the very things that a great writer has superbly—by means of the chosen medium of words alone—enabled us to imagine, to picture” Thus, Ricks objects that the film shows an image of John Keats with his head upon Fanny Brawne’s breast to accompany the sonnet “Bright Star.”, saying: “[T]o insist that the entwined lovers be accompanied by lines from the sonnet is to reduce the poem from a dramatic imagining to a stage direction or even a gloss.” Ricks also objects to the use of lines from Keats’s letters as dialogue because “they sound staged, a lecture….” I reacted differently to the movie, I think because I took the visuals not as illustrations of the words, but as the raw material from which Keats fashioned his poems. When the film showed the night sky filled with stars, I realized that in the London of that time, the stars filled the night sky. And London must have been filled with the songs of birds.

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