Byron Review Friday

Byron (2003)
Dir. Julian Farino, with Jonny Lee Miller
Instant on Netflix

Shaken it up a bit!  I didn’t finish a full book last week (which is not to say that I didn’t read), so I thought I would write about this little BBC 2-episode miniseries about Lord Byron’s life.  It begins with the publication of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and continues to his death, spanning the years 1812 to 1824 approximately.

Besides Jonny Lee Miller’s uncanny resemblance to paintings of Byron, I was also pleased to see veterans from the BBC Vanity Fair (Natasha Little and Philip Glenister) as Augusta Leigh and Fletcher. The cast did an amazing job with the script and (I thought) captured personalities as well as can be expected inasmuch as Byron, Augusta, Annabella, et al have been essentialized through the years to become caricatures, not real people or even characters.

An obvious comparison to Bright Star comes to mind.  Bright Star pays more attention to costuming, presumably because they had a bigger budget.  I would say that Bright Star’s vision of Romanticism isn’t perhaps as complete as Byron’s.  That is to say, while Bright Star does allude to Romantic politics and letters, Byron shoves it in your face.  Byron is big and bold, not unlike the man, whereas Bright Star is more introspective in many ways.

Of course, this difference may also be related to the personalities of the poets themselves (Keats being a lover, not a fighter, Byron being a lover AND a fighter).  But I also think it has something to do with the films’ point of view.  Bright Star is told from Fanny Brawne’s perspective, whereas Byron, is, well, Byron.

One complaint: the film COMPLETELY neglects the Summer of 1816.  I suppose the filmmakers decided that they were more interested in the private lives of the characters, rather than big myth-making Gothic moments.  But I would have liked to see what they would have done with it.

Watch it and enjoy.  It’s brain candy for comps-tired minds.

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