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The Poems

Poetry Onscreen

“The film is in itself a kind of ballad, like Keats’ ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ – it is a story about the love affair of Fanny Brawne and John Keats.”
Jane Campion, writer and director

Keats' poems permeate the film, whether recited by the characters or referenced in the striking visuals. The film of course is named after Keats' sonnet, commonly thought to be a love poem to his fiancé Fanny Brawne.

A reviewer of Bright Star remarked:

“Having Cornish and Whishaw recite stretches of Keats' poetry in the course of conversation is a risky strategy that could easily misfire, but never does.”


  1. In what different ways might a filmmaker present poetry onscreen? Consider how the poetry in Bright Star influences the narrative and mise en scène in key scenes.
  2. Interpretations of Keats' poetry are not always agreed upon by critics. Do you think a director should commit to a particular interpretation of a poet and their work, or is it possible to leave this open to audience interpretation?

Jane Campion describes how she came to make the film.

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