I wasn't sure what I wanted to post in ode this Valentine's Day this year. Last year I bitched about how the modern idea of romance is 'death, loss, suffering' and how Ernst Lubitsch knows real romance. This year, Ruth put together a great list of 'romantic movies directed by female directors' and she mentioned (albeit 'honorably') a movie that literally stopped my breath the first time I saw it; 'Bright Star'. If I could have an affair with ANY movie in the history of movies, it would be this one. Yes, I know that it goes against my rant last year (yes, Keats dies) but this movie is so much more than 'death, loss, suffering'. I've been toying with a post dedicated to Jane Campion, who I consider to be one of the most sensually aware directors of all time, and this is her crowning achievement in that regard (not her best film, but her best use of romantic desire in a movie).
This movie is by far one of the most sensually stimulating films I’ve ever seen. That isn’t to say that it is an explicit film (nothing close to ‘The Piano’) but Campion has a wonderful way of eliciting in the viewer a raw and natural emotion, that of longing and desire, and she paints such a beautifully desirous picture that we are left with baited breath. The way Keats caresses Fanny’s hand; the way she removes a key from her necklace; the way they press their bodies against a wall just to be nearer to one another. Every frame is captured in such a provocative way that we are so entranced and so, excited.
So today, on this Valentine's Day, I leave you with some images that get my heart racing:
It has so much to do with the staging of these scenes, which is really why Campion is so marvelous at what she does. It isn't so much the cinematography (which is STUNNING) but the complete awareness of the importance of every little detail. Campion showed this to such effect in so many of her films (most notably here and in 'Portrait of a Lady'). Each look, each movement of a finger, each caress, each breath; everything is perfectly timed, perfectly choreographed to deliver the desired effect. There are so many more, SO MANY, and some that I even love more than these but just couldn't find online, but really...just watch the damn movie.
And then there is this 'first kiss'...and who doesn't wish this upon themselves...