Film – Mary Shelley
Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Starring: Elle Fanning, Maisie Williams, Douglas Booth
Genre: It’s alive (sort of)
Frankenstein is probably the best known novel that most people have never read. Certainly, having an intricate knowledge of Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, written by Mary Shelley in 1818, is not mandatory to watching and enjoying the Shelley biopic. Like my lack of knowledge, it’s enough to know that Dr Frankenstein stitched body parts together to create a monster brought back to life with lightning and that the monster was a representation of basic human emotions of loneliness and a desire to be loved.
It should come as no surprise therefore to learn that Shelley was writing from the heart and that her life experiences were relied upon in great part in the writing of the novel (I guess that’s true of all novels).
In many ways, the life of Mary Shelly is even more interesting than her literary accomplishments: her parents were pioneers of modern feminism; her mother died shortly after she was born; she was in love with an older married man at 16; ran away with him and her sister; exposed to free love; pregnant at 18; child dead after two months; and more death and calamity than anyone deserves. It’s a lot to fit into a movie, and like most biopics it struggles to hold it all in.
It’s a valiant attempt though and well worth the effort if for no other reason than it might prompt the watcher to actually go and read Frankenstein and find out what all the fuss is about.
Rating: Three (lightning) strikes