Monday, October 5, 2009

"Bright Star" as Spiritual Movie

Yesterday, I went to see the movie Bright Star. While it isn't billed as a spiritual film, I found many spiritual elements in it.

It's a story about the doomed love affair between 19th Century English poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. The film focuses on their passion for each other and their passion for his poetry. Both of those things inspire a passion for the world around them--and the film gives us lush depictions of the world around them, whether it's the broad sweep of landscapes or the close examination of a butterfly.

Keats has tuberculosis, which is one of those diseases that lets you know you're dying long before you actually do. I always tell my students that Keats wrote his best work after he started coughing up blood. You wake up, cough up a bit of your lungs, and you're reminded of your mortality--if you had this daily reminder that time was running out, you might create your best work in short order too.

This knowledge of impending death also inspires a love for the world, and it's that love for the world, that painful appreciation, which makes me see the film as a spiritual film. It reminds us of the beauty of God's creation in almost every shot. The only grim scenes are set in the manmade chaos of inner-city rooms.

And the love of the two young people for each other, and the poetry that it inspires, reminds me of the sacramental nature of love. Through our love of our fellow humans, we can come to know God and God's love for us.

It's a gorgeous movie. What a rare movie, that intoxicates the senses without offending the sensibilities. Go see it before it leaves your town. It's one of those that demands a big screen.

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