In 1950, John Brinnan invited the highly acclaimed and infamous Dylan Thomas to New York for a series of poetry readings. Ignoring rumors of Thomas' frivolities back home, Brinnan has his hands full when the poet arrives. Desperate to get his watchful university chaplains off his back, Brinnan takes Thomas to his family retreat in the woods of Connecticut. But even in the middle of nowhere, the resourceful and cantankerous Thomas finds an audience for his art, passion, love and aggression...
Having now watched this film twice I have to say that to me Set Fire To The Stars is a master class in classic film making, Hitchcock often referred to 'pure cinema' the art of story telling via the art of the composition of shots and the smooth editing used to translate the written word into a visual experience and this film truly achieves what Hitchcock discussed.
It takes me back to the classics of film, the films that originally drew my attention and focus into the importance of film as an art form and lead to my career aspirations of sharing the joy and experience I had felt into the minds of the young and impressionable generations of the future. I have been a lecturer in Film Studies for 15 years.
The relationship between Thomas and Brinnin is just so beautifully created it almost feels as though one is part of this close and personal journey they shared. The relationship that develops through the film almost brought me to tears on more than one occasion while watching the film (if not for being a true 'Yorkshire man' then I think I could have shed a tear or two) The pain and frustration that Brinnin feels towards Thomas can be truly felt by the viewer, in one moment their relationship is so perfectly created only for the next scene to totally destroy Brinnin's 'love' for Thomas pride that almost immediately becomes embarrassment, joy that turns swiftly to sadness can only be said to be breath taking.
The performances of both Celyn and Elijah are at the height of what one would expect from the classics of Hollywood in its Golden Age, I do have to say that Celyn outshines on more than one occasion - which are the moments that made me feel extremely emotional, a man on the edge who was so lost in excess that I felt extreme sorrow for the character and those around him.
The composition of the shots is without doubt awe inspiring; I did not find one shot that jolted me from this visual feast. I get great delight from films that are obviously so cinematic, sadly something that is missing from so many contemporary films and what distinguishes a film from a movie. The scenes that stood out the most to me are the lake scene, the café scene (which was perfectly composed), the chess game and the woodland just perfect.
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