Category Archives: Bookish Music

An Uncommon Pleasure: A Review of the film soundtrack BRIGHT STAR


While I came to enjoy this soundtrack a great deal, I admit that the unconventional format took me by surprise. Rather than simply giving us the musical score of the movie BRIGHT STAR, this recording combines music, dialogue, and Keats’ poetry, distilling them into a short but moving program. We start with “Negative Capability,” an instrumentally backed conversation between Ben Whishaw (John Keats) and Abbie Cornish (Fanny Brawne) about the nebulous nature of poetry. This piece might also be taken as instruction to the listener about how to approach the rest of the CD–not necessarily with a destination in mind, but in a spirit of expansion and possibility.

The selections that follow demonstrate how melody, speech, and rhythm can come together and create an almost three-dimensional sensory experience that transports the listener INTO the film. I felt like an invisible entity listening in on Keats and Brawne. Particular high points include, “The Human Orchestra,” an amazing vocal arrangement that sends chills down my spine every time I hear it, and actor Ben Whishaw’s readings of Keats’s poems “La Belle Dam Sans Merci” and “Ode to a Nightingale,” understated performances that resonate with emotion.

So, although this soundtrack is not quite what I expected when I decided to purchase it, I am glad that I gave it a chance.