Brummell & Byron: The Two heartthrobs of the Regency Era

BEAU BRUMMELL: This Charming Man

The wickedly handsome James Purefoy stars in this drama about the notorious dandy Beau Brummell. Forerunner of today’s celebrity culture, Brummell became famous for his impeccable dress sense and connections with the right people, including the Prince Regent.

Credited with making a less flashy and more elegant style of dress fashionable, the beautifully cut clothing that he made popular is seen as an early version of the suit. Having risen to a height of popularity, however, descent was swift. Brummell died penniless in France, having lost the favour of the Prince.

I am no history buff and yet was able to pick up on many glaring historical inaccuracies. However, as I watched this period movie knowing it would be pretty bad, I was able to enjoy it. After all, I watched this movie only to admire James Purefoy. Gorgeous, and a great actor, I am all bewilderment that he hasn’t been casted in every single period drama.

I could NOT enjoy this period movie to the fullest because of Matthew Rhys who played Lord Byron, a close friend of Brummells (or so it seems to be, according to the movie). He gave me the creepers.

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GEORGE GORDEN BYRON: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

I think my dislike for Rhys as Byron is due to my having already watched BYRON (2003) in which Jonny Lee Miller played the role of Lord Byron. The movie was very entertaining! Don’t let the movie’s poster frighten you; I was at first put off by it. But intense boredom led me to watch it and I was amazed by how intriguing the movie was.

Byron was considered to be an alcoholic, a sex-addict, a pedophile, and an adulterer who had an affair with his half-sister. Despite the rumours, whether they be true or false, he wrote exquisite poems:

SHE walks in beauty, like the nightOf cloudless climes and starry skies;And all that’s best of dark and brightMeet in her aspect and her eyes:Thus mellow’d to that tender lightWhich heaven to gaudy day denies. One shade the more, one ray the less,Had half impair’d the nameless graceWhich waves in every raven tress,Or softly lightens o’er her face;Where thoughts serenely sweet expressHow pure, how dear their dwelling-place. And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,The smiles that win, the tints that glow,But tell of days in goodness spent,A mind at peace with all below,A heart whose love is innocent!

On another note, Byron inspired for us writers the BYRONIC FIGURE. Maria described the figure as thus: “For Byronic hero we intend the literary type G.G. Byron created in his works: Lara, The Corsair, Manfred and even Don Juan. His literary hero is restless, moody, rebellious, wild in manners but of noble birth, haunted by a secret from his past, loved by women and envied by men. This is what Byronic hero means in literary criticism. You can recognize the same type in Charlotte Bronte’s Mr Rochester or Emily Bronte’s Heathcliffs. They are not pedofiles nor incestuous creatures but they are Byronic heroes. G.G. Byron , the man is not to be confused with his heroes nor with the poet who lives in his beautiful lines. These is what I learnt at university. A literary masterpiece has its own independent life, independent from the life of its author.

Ok. I’ll wrap it up. James Purefoy is gorgeoussss. If you want to drool, watch Beau Brummell. If you’re curious about Byron watch the 2003 movie directed by Julian Farino or buy the biography by MacCarthy and read along with me.

Period Movie Collection

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The deadline by which I will finish my revision and send back to Agent#1: May 13th

Film Review: Bright Star (2009)

Brief Summary: Bright Star revolves around the three-year romance between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. Fanny is a peculiar young woman who, at first, has little interest in poetry. When she meets the enigmatic Keats, she purchases a copy of his book of poems, wanting to figure out for herself whether Keats is an idiot or not. After reading his work, she confesses to him: “I wanted to love it—But…” In other words, she didn’t like his poems.

However, as her interest in this man grows, so does her appreciation for poetry. She is awakened by him. Once Fanny and Keats fall in love, they are plunged into an obsessive relationship that changes the whole course of their lives.

Thoughts: I watched this movie with great expectations. And I stress the word ‘GREAT’. Perhaps it was due to this soaring expectation that I ended up feeling VERY disappointed by the end of this film.

Bright Star did begin superbly, captivating me with its lovely opening soundtrack, but my interest waned after Fanny and Keats discovered their love for each other. I felt that this discovery occurred too quickly, with too little development. Hence, when Fanny goes into this obsessive I-can’t-live-without-him attitude, she inspired little sympathy in me. My heart did not cry for her when she cried.

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Another reason I felt so little for heartbreaking love-story was due to how short and undeveloped some of the scenes between Keats and Fanny were. Where the emotions could have been developed and intensified, instead, the director chose to end the scene and skip over a whole passage in time to another moment in their relationship.

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Now that I have lowered your expectations about this movie, go watch it. You might like it. My sister certainly did. She was bawling her eyes out by the end of the movie.

Period Movie Collection

Period Film: Stage Beauty (2004)

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I put off watching Stage Beauty for a long while, but when I finally did see it, I was drawn into a romantic, entertaining and poignant story. I was very surprised. No wonder this movie was awarded the Overlooked Film of the Year (2004) by the Phoenix Film Critics Society.

Stage Beauty is set in 17th-century England when it was against the law for a woman to act on-stage. So Maria (Claire Danes), an aspiring actress, performs secretly at an underground theatre. When she isn’t acting, she is the dresser for the handsome Ned Kynaston (Billy Crudup). Kynaston, who has been playing the female role on-stage for years, is the leading actor of his day.

Little does he know that his loyal Maria is infatuated with him. She ends up heartbroken and shocked when, one night, she sees Kynaston making out with a male co-actor. Leaving him she pursues her dream to become a respected actress and ends up creating a stir by playing Desedmona in Othello. After a series of events, King Charles II lifts the ban, allowing females to act, but enacts a new law that makes it illegal for men to play the role of a woman on-stage. This leads to Kynaston’s downfall while Maria becomes a star. Due to all that has occurred, there relationship becomes a complicated balance of resentment and compassion.

I started watching this movie thinking that the romance between the heroine and the bisexual hero wouldn’t work out, but, surprisingly, this unconventional pairing complemented the film. Stage Beauty isn’t such an empty, brainless film as I thought it’d be. Though the first half of the movie started off as if it’d be another trashy comedy, towards the latter half, there was a bit of depth to the storyline. I found myself constantly surprised throughout.

While the film had its flaws, I was able to overlook them due to the sheer entertainment of the movie.

Period Movie Collection

FILM: The Young Victoria

….And I thought I’d seen all the good period films! I gave up searching for movies set in the 19th century, knowing I’d be disappointed, as I had failed to find one (which I hadn’t seen) for the past few months. But, lo-and-behold, I accidentally came across ‘The Young Victoria’ which is based on the love story between Queen Victoria and [Prince?] Albert. I don’t know how historically accurate it is. My knowledge is mainly concentrated on the late 18th and early 19th century. So, if there were any inaccuracies, I didn’t notice it, and so my ignorance allowed me to enjoy this movie most thoroughly. It was so refreshing, as it’s very BBC-period-drama-esque and has not been Hollywootized. There wasn’t much of a climax, and there wasn’t that Hollywood ending with loud, dramatic music accompanied by cheesy lines. No, the whole film was fairly subtle from start to finish.–It was its subtility that made some of the scenes most endearing. And if not for anything else, I would watch this movie for the costumes itself. So beautiful. But alas, I still think the Regency fashion was better. I just don’t like the mustaches and bushy sideburns of the Victorian men. And their trousers were too loose. Also the ladies’ muslin empire dresses in the Regency era were beautiful!

Overall, though “The Young Victoria” may not be the most memorable movie I’ve seen, it was still great to watch and I’d recommend it. Well, I’d recommend anything with costumes!