I watched a really good movie this week that I want to tell you about, called Bright Star. It's about the love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawne, and it's incredibly romantic. How could it be anything but, when it has the poetry of Keats serving as it's backdrop? Be forewarned, this movie is sad. Keats dies very young, before he could gain any sort of renown. He and Fanny were never married, though they loved each other intensely. It was a time when people did not marry until they could afford it. People were prudent and careful. The practicalities of life often won out over passion and love.
As I watched this movie I started to wonder, why are the tragic love stories so appealing? Why do we enjoy crying (I would have wept had Alex not been watching me, wondering why I was sitting there crying on the couch) at the end when tragedy strikes? I have a feeling that there are as many different answers as there are people (or at least women). For me, I like tragic love stories because they are so far removed from the reality of my life. There are no dishes to be done, no children with needs that need to be met. Right. Now. In tragic love stories, the hero and heroine defy the expectations of everyone around them. They give in to their love for each other and go down a road that is full of drama and excitement and all of the strong emotions involved in new love. They have butterflies in their stomachs, and therefore I get to have butterflies in my stomach. And then they meet their end. Inevitably the lovers part or one of them dies. Sadness follows, and perversely, there is something wonderfully cathartic about having a good cry over something that has nothing to do with my life. I get to give vent to all of the emotions that I have been holding in for too long. It's a private moment for me, the end of a sad love story. I cry unabashedly. That's why I generally prefer to watch these tragedies alone at night after my kids have gone to bed, preferably when Jeremy isn't home. I want to have my cry out alone and for as long as I want.
Don't worry, if you're not a crier. I think you'll enjoy this movie for its other merits. Though it's tragic, you don't feel emotionally manipulated. I hate feeling manipulated into crying. Second, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the costumes are to die for. Third, it was really fun to see Paul Schneider outside of Parks and Recreation. His Charles Brown is quite different from the Mark Brendanawicz of P&R, though I couldn't decide whether I liked his Scottish accent or not. The final reason to watch and love this movie; in a word: Poetry. And I'm not a poetry person. I could hardly finish my Victorian poetry class in college. But somehow Keats poetry infuses this film with even more beauty than a good period piece usually has (except for maybe The Painted Veil, another of my favorite tragic love stories. The cinematography really makes that movie.).
OK, so go down to your local Red Box. Watch this movie and let me know what you think. Come on, you know you're looking for something do do this weekend!