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A facilitator s guide for youth workers, leaders, and educators and families to accompany the movie, Bright Star. Ages 12 and up youthfilmproject.

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A facilitator s guide for youth workers, leaders, and educators and families to accompany the movie, Bright Star. Ages 12 and up youthfilmproject.org Bright Star official website:
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A facilitator s guide for youth workers, leaders, and educators and families to accompany the movie, Bright Star. Ages 12 and up youthfilmproject.org Bright Star official website: A facilitator s guide for youth workers, leaders, educators and families to accompany the movie, Bright Star. Dear Group Facilitator: This FILM curriculum for Bright Star is structured for use in conjunction with reading one or more of Keats poems and a selection of his letters to Fanny Brawne, his friends and family, and viewing the movie. The guide offers discussion topics, activities and service-project ideas for youth ages 12 and up. Exploring poetry as well as learning more about the early 19th century are key themes in this guide. Synopsis London 1818: a secret love affair begins between 23-year-old English poet, John Keats, and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, an outspoken student of fashion. This unlikely pair started at odds; he thinking her a stylish minx, she unimpressed by literature in general. It was the illness of Keats younger brother that drew them together. Keats was touched by Fanny s efforts to help and agreed to teach her poetry. By the time Fanny s alarmed mother and Keats best friend Brown realised their attachment, the relationship had an unstoppable momentum. Intensely and helplessly absorbed in each other, the young lovers were swept into powerful new sensations. I have the feeling as if I were dissolving, Keats wrote to her. Together they rode a wave of romantic obsession that deepened as their troubles mounted. Only Keats illness proved insurmountable. FILM curriculum is made possible through the partnership of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures and the National Collaboration for Youth. Heartland is a non-profit organization that seeks to recognize and honor filmmakers whose work explores the human journey. The National Collaboration for Youth is a non-profit organization providing a unified voice for its coalition of more than 50 national, non-profit, youth development organizations, and concentrates on improving the conditions of youth in the United States and enabling youth to realize their full capabilities. 1 A facilitator s guide for youth workers, leaders, educators and families to accompany the movie, Bright Star. Table of Contents Introduction...3 Module One: Setting Up the Story... 5 Activity One: Discovering The Story...6 Activity Two: Through Keats Eyes...7 Module Two: The Nineteenth Century... 8 Activity One: An Introduction to John Keats and Fanny Brawne...9 Activity Two: Introduction to the Nineteenth Century...11 Activity Three: Examining the Differences Between the 19th Century and Today...13 Module Three: Poetry and Communication Activity One: Poetry in Bright Star...16 Activity Two: Poetry Terms...18 Activity Three: Famous Poets...20 Activity Four: Communicating Through Writing...22 Module Four: Following Your Passion Activity One: Young People Impacting Culture...25 Activity Two Inspiring Other s Passion...26 Post Program Evaluation A facilitator s guide for youth workers, leaders, educators and families to accompany the movie, Bright Star. Objectives for Youth Explore the background and development of the film, Bright Star Learn more about the early 19th century Explore the poetry of John Keats and other Romantic Poets Discover the power of written communication Explore some differences between the 19th century and today Step 1) Read the books and see the movie The movie, Bright Star, presented by Miramax, opens in select theaters fall of It is rated PG. Reading Materials: Bright Star is based on the brief romance between John Keats and Frances (Fanny) Brawne. Their three-year relationship is documented in the surviving letters and notes that Keats wrote Fanny. Those letters that Fanny wrote Keats in return were destroyed upon Keats death, as he requested. Some of Keats poetry was even written for Fanny, most notably, Bright star! would I were steadfast as though art. There are many places to find these poems and letters. Here are just a few books that contain Keats work: Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne by John Keats, introduction by Jane Campion Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats (Modern Library Classics) by John Keats and Edward Hirsch The Complete Poems of John Keats (Modern Library) by John Keats Keats s Poetry and Prose (Norton Critical Editions) by John Keats and Jeffrey N. Cox Selected Poems (Penguin Classics: Poetry) by John Keats and John Barnard 3 A facilitator s guide for youth workers, leaders, educators and families to accompany the movie, Bright Star. There are also several cheap and wonderful places online to find Keats poetry and letters. Here are a few links to get you started: englishhistory.net/keats/poetry.html Additionally, Bright Star Writer/Director Jane Campion was inspired to make this film after reading Andrew Motion s biography Keats, published by Faber & Faber, London Step 2) Participate Take part in meaningful discussions and activities: Learn more about the early 19th century Explore the poetry of John Keats and other romantic poets Discover the power of written communication Explore the differences between the 19th century and today Step 3) Take the lead to help others Engage in a project within your community based on lessons learned in this curriculum. Project ideas are included in the curriculum; there is also a free, downloadable servicelearning supplement to assist in the planning and managing of Bright Star service projects. Please visit to download the supplement. 4 Module 1: Setting up the Story Bright Star is a biopic that explores the most prolific and creative period of poet John Keats life. This period of time also happens to be the last three years of his life before his untimely death at age 25. Through Keats poetry, letters from Keats to his friends and family, excerpts from Fanny Brawne s diary, and historical snapshots, this film offers a detailed account of those last three years of Keats life. The next section explores the way in which Writer/Director Jane Campion pulled the various pieces and parts of history together to create a film that portrays the last years of one of the best renowned romantic poets in history. Section Objectives for Youth Distinguish historical fact from speculation Explore perspective in storytelling 5 Module 1: Setting up the Story Activity 1: Discovering the Story The following excerpt is courtesy of the Bright Star Production Notes and is a portion of Writer/Director Jane Campion s statement about the film. Read individually or in a group, then discuss the questions that follow. The film stays as true to history as possible. I needed to invent the story between the facts. I was very conscious of remaining modest and true to the spirit of these two extraordinary beings. Keats was easy, his personality, his playfulness that I read in his letters felt very familiar. But as Keats destroyed his letters from Fanny I had less to guide me for her character. For example, Fanny sometimes showed remarkable restraint. On returning home after saying a final farewell to Keats when he left for Rome, she simply wrote in her diary Mr Keats left Hampstead. Yet Keats also quoted Fanny in a letter to his friend Brown in the days preceding his departure as repeatedly asking, Is there another Life? Shall I awake and find this all a dream? There must be. We cannot be created for this sort of suffering. Then there was the summer of extraordinarily passionate love letters, which to receive must have been overpowering, so it was amidst these contrasts between passionate outpouring, grieving and extraordinary restraint that helped set the world in which they faced their fate. Discussion Questions Do you feel you have a different understanding of the film after reading Writer/Director Jane Campion s statement above? How did her explanation help you think differently about the movie? Considering that Fanny Brawne s notes to Keats no longer exist because Keats had them destroyed after his death, what do you think of Campion s decision to make a movie from Brawne s point of view? How does seeing the movie through Brawne s eyes inform your opinion of Keats? What are the pros and cons of having the story told through Brawne s eyes? Although Bright Star is a period piece, it shares some universal themes. What themes in the film are universal and in what ways did you identify with them? 6 Module 1: Setting up the Story Activity 2: Through Keats Eyes ACTIVITY In Module 1: Section 1 you had the opportunity to read an excerpt from Writer/Director Jane Campion s Director s Statement about making Bright Star. You learned that it was her decision to tell the story from Fanny Brawne s perspective even though there is less information known about her and all of her letters to Keats were destroyed. What do you think the film would have been like had it been told through Keats point of view? How might it have changed the way you viewed the characters? Think about these questions and re-write how you think the story would have unfolded had this story been told through Keats eyes. Use the space below to get started. 7 Module 2: The 19th Century Bright Star is a period film that focuses on Keats and Brawne s relationship. Set in the early 19th century, this movie gives a glimpse of some aspects of life in England just after the turn of the century. This section will expand past the brief scenes of 19th century life represented in Bright Star and examine certain notable aspects of the early 19th century as well as a brief look at Keats and Brawne. This section serves as a stepping stone to get youth thinking about the historical context of the film, yet is in no way a complete overview of the time in which the movie is set. Encourage a greater understanding of the period by supplementing this section with more focused research on the period. Objectives for Youth: Glimpse inside Keats and Brawne s individual lives Learn about the Regency Period and the Industrial Revolution Explore the differences between life then and now 8 Module 2: The 19th Century Section 1: An Introduction to John Keats and Fanny Brawne John Keats John Keats, one of the most celebrated poets of the Romantic movement, was born in 1795 to London innkeepers. Keats was the oldest of four children. His younger siblings George, Thomas and Fanny became Keats responsibility very early in life. At age 14, Keats and his siblings became orphans, losing their mother to tuberculosis six years after losing their father in a fall from a horse. Keats grandmother appointed Richard Abbey as the Keats children s guardian. Abbey was a harsh man and was very controlling. Keats first went into medicine at age 15, in part to appease Abbey. However, Keats did not enjoy medicine and left it to dedicate his time fully to poetry. In 1818, Keats met his good friend Charles Armitage Brown s tenant Fanny Brawne. This is the same year Keats younger brother Tom died from tuberculosis and brother George moved to America. In 1820, Keats contracted tuberculosis and moved to Rome, Italy where the climate was best suited for Keats failing lungs. Unfortunately, the climate was not enough to cure him. He passed away on February 23, 1921, at age 25. Fanny Brawne* Information about Fanny Brawne is not as readily found as is information about Keats because she is not so public a figure. Brawne only came to public notice after her death in 1865 when her children sold her love letters from Keats, who by then was well revered as a poet. Fanny Brawne was born in 1800 and met Keats in She and her siblings, Sam and Margaret, lived with their mother, a widow. The Brawne family met Keats through the Dilke family who were neighbors of Charles Armitage Brown, a very good friend and future roommate of Keats. When Keats moved in with Brown, Fanny spent much more time near Keats because of her visits to the Dilkes and their relationship continued to grow. Well after Keats death, Brawne married Louis Lindon. They had three children, Edmund, Herbert and Margaret. *Information derived from englishhistory.net/keats/fannybrawne.html 9 Module 2: The 19th Century Section 1: An Introduction to John Keats and Fanny Brawne Using the brief biographies on the previous page, discuss the questions that follow. Also, to help answer these questions, use the resources below to do further research on Keats and Brawne. More information about John Keats can be found in nearly each collection of his letters and poetry, as well as many resources online. A good place to start online is the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill website: A good starting point to learn more about Fanny Brawne if found here: englishhistory.net/keats/fannybrawne.html Discussion Questions After learning about Keats and Brawne in a bit more detail, do you feel like the movie gave you an accurate understanding of their lives? Is there any part of either Keats or Brawne s life that you would like the movie to have explored in greater detail? What part? Why? Based on Brawne s social class and on Keats, do you believe her mother would have allowed Brawne to become engaged to Keats if his death hadn t been imminent? How do you believe Keats difficult childhood and early responsibility for his siblings affected his later life? Did his hardship play a part in his poetry? In what way? Did it play a part in his relationship with Brawne? It was said that Brawne did not tell her husband Louis Lindon about her youthful relationship with Keats, but did tell her children. What do you think of Brawne s decision to keep the letters secrect? Why do you believe Keats would have made the decision to have Brawne s letters to him destroyed upon his death? 10 Module 2: The 19th Century Section 2: An Introduction to the 19th Century Bright Star is a period piece that does not delve too deeply in the history surrounding Keats and Brawne s love story, but it is important to set the story in the time during which it is set. Read the following summary, supplementing it with additional research to get a more comprehensive overview of the time period when Keats and Brawne lived and loved. Brawne and Keats relationship took place in early 19th century England. This period fell during the time of the Industrial Revolution, a time of great innovation and a period that drastically impacted the way society worked and lived. Innovations in textile, steam power and iron founding brought about cotton mills, semi-automated factories. Placement of these factories were nearer the resources they needed to thrive, instead of a power source such as a water mill, thus changing the access that workers had to these factories. These new innovations helped create a new class of people. As the working class began to find more and more opportunities to work, the middle class soon grew. However, the working conditions for these factory workers were harsh and the days were long. Romanticism, the literature movement of which John Keats was a notable figure, was in part a response the Industrial Revolution, a time of budding technology. Romanticism stressed nature, which was in large contrast to the factories and mills cropping up, taking much of the art and craftsmanship out of creating manufactured goods. While the Industrial Revolution was a very long span of time, a shorter and more specific time period during which Bright Star is set, is referred to as the British Regency. The Regency period was a time of great opulence in art, architecture and culture among the aristocracy. This period of time took place when George III became too sick to rule and his son, the Prince of Wales, became Prince Regent. Do some research on your own to discover more about the Industrial Revolution and the Regency period to more fully understand how they impacted society during the 19th century. Use this research to help answer the questions on the next page and help form a more comprehensive understanding of how Bright Star reflects the time period during which it was set. 11 Module 2: The 19th Century Section 2: Introduction to the 19th Century Discussion Questions How did the Industrial Revolution impact society and social class in the 19th century? What are some factors that led up to and encouraged the development of new industry? List six effects the Industrial Revolution had on society and the way in which people worked and lived? To what social class did Fanny Brawne belong? What class would John Keats have fit into and why did this make he and Fanny s engagement frowned upon? If Keats and Brawne s engagement had fallen during a later time period, do you believe their engagement would have still been frowned upon? Why? The effects of the Industrial Revolution do not play much of a role in Bright Star; however, there are moments in the film that demonstrate certain aspects of the time. What examples were you able to find? 12 Module 2: The 19th Century Section 3: Examining the Differences Between the 19th Century and Today ACTIVITY Through viewing Bright Star and by doing additional research about the 19th century, there are several differences between the early 19th century and today that should be noted. Industry, society and culture have become drastically different than they were 200 years ago. Using what you already know, and supplementing it with additional research, fill in the chart below to explore the differences between the early 19th century and today. Category Life in 1815 England Life Today Technology Methods of Communication Family Roles Social Class System Recreational Activities 13 Module 2: The 19th Century Section 3: Examining the Differences Between the 19th Century and Today ACTIVITY Extension Use what you know of the early 19th century and today and write a creative piece about what John Keats life could look like today. Take into consideration not only how the society as it operates today would impact his profession as a poet and what would be expected of him, but focus on how his relationship with Fanny Brawne would be accepted today. Consider Romanticism in relation to the Industrial Revolution and compare that relationship to something today. If you are feeling particularly creative, consider how he would dress and where he would live based on what you know of Keats through his poetry and letters. 14 Module 3: Poetry and Communication John Keats is one of the best known Romantic poets, along with William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Blake. This section will explore some of Keats best known poetry and the Romantic period of literature. Additionally, this section will focus on the importance of communicating through writing and the impact words have on history. Objectives for Youth: Explore poetry and poets of the Romantic Period Experiment with creating original poetry Consider the timeless importance of communication 15 Module 3: Poetry and Communication Section 1: Poetry in Bright Star The following is excerpted from the Bright Star Production Notes. Keats poetry is, of course, included [in Bright Star], but Campion made sure it was in an accessible way. I was determined to get as much of his poetry in as we could she says. A lot of people feel alienated from poetry because they feel they don t understand it. But Keats is a great explainer of poetry and I wanted to use that in the story. Poetry is a drug really, it goes into your head and it sticks. Bright Star is a story that unfolds like a ballad. Director Jane Campion, in the Director s Notes, states, The film is in itself a kind of ballad, like Keats s Eve of St Agnes it is a story about the love affair of Fanny Brawne and John Keats. The story progresses in verses charting their increasing involvement and attachment as well as their deepening difficulties. Bright Star, the poem Keats wrote for Fanny Brawne and that inspired the title for this film is below. Read it in its entirety and discuss what
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