The Mirror Shapes the Hand: Re-thinking the Representation of the Auteur in Campion’s 'Bright Star'

Helen Goritsas


Despite contention and criticism, auteur theory has significantly influenced screen studies for over half a century and has framed as cinema’s major creative force the recurring ‘brand’ or ‘style’ of a director’s personal vision. This essay applies these debates to Jane Campion’s ‘Bright Star’ (2009), an intimate ballad of the doomed romance between the English Romantic poet John Keats and his muse Fanny Brawne. In embracing the Keatsian principle of ‘Negative Capability’—that is, ‘when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’—the essay will engage in a meditation on the idea of surpassing the self in the process of creation, exploring the prospect of an author’s negation of his or her ego in an encounter that perhaps resists the traditional categorisation of human experience. I conclude that a director’s work is not created in isolation and that connectedness is an integral part of our relationship to each other and the world around us.

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