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Entries in Mary Shelley (3)

Friday
May252018

Review: Mary Shelley

by Jason Adams

In the summer of 1816 one of the most legendary of literary happenings occurred - the poet Percy Shelley and his wife Mary went to stay at the poet Lord Byron's house near Lake Geneva for the summer. Mary's step-sister Claire wrangled them an invite (or so she said) since she was having an affair with the spitefully torrid Lord himself. Also joining them at the house was the Lord's physician John Polidori, who also fancied himself somewhat of a writer. And birthed from those weeks of most gothic merrymaking was basically the entirety of the horror genre to come: Mary Shelley would come up with her lovely little monster Frankenstein, while Polidori would write "The Vampyre," the inspiration for a certain Bram Stoker a swift generation later.

The story of that time and place has been well-trod by fiction before...

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Wednesday
May232018

Interview: Director Haifaa al-Mansour & Actor Douglas Booth on "Mary Shelley"

by Murtada Elfadl

Douglas Booth and Elle Fanning as the Shelleys in "Mary Shelley"

The new biopic Mary Shelley is about the famous writer, played by Elle Faning, while she’s in the throes of writing the Gothic magnum opus Frankenstein, at only 18 years of age. The film tells the story of the events that led her there. Those include her tempestuous relationships with renowned romantic poet Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) who would become her husband, and with her half-sister Claire (Bel Powley). The film takes us to the trio’s fateful stay at Lord Byron's (Tom Sturridge) house at Lake Geneva, where the idea of Frankenstein was conceived.

This is Haifaa al-Mansour’s second directorial project after the 2013 festival hit Wadjda. Wadjda was the first feature shot entirely inside Saudi Arabia, and the first ever directed by a Saudi woman, making al-Mansour a true trailblazer. It''s not surprising then to find her drawn to the story of Mary Shelley, another pioneer. I found a through line, despite the period setting and different locations, between the two films. Both stories of young women determined to chart their own destiny. So that was where I started my conversation with al-Mansour and Booth when they were in New York last month for the Tribeca Film Festival. THE INTERVIEW IS AFTER THE JUMP...

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Wednesday
Sep132017

TIFF: Elle Fanning is "Mary Shelley"

Our ongoing adventures at TIFF

In the summer of 1816 legendary Romantic literary figures Mary Shelley (and stepsister Claire Clairmont), Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and Dr John Polidori were holed up in a Swiss estate and challenged each other to write scary ghost stories. From that fateful contest two famous works of horror emerged ("Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus" in 1818 and "The Vampyre" in 1819 -- neither of them actual ghost stories!). Ken Russell attacked this collision of authors with his trademark sexual abandon and visual insanity in Gothic (1986) and his wasn't the first or last film to stare with fascination at that morbid contest 201 years ago. We return to that summer for a good chunk of Haifaa al-Mansour's Mary Shelley but with far different intent.

Haifaa al-Mansour, the first Saudi female film director (she previously directed Wadjda) is more interested in the trailblazing of Mary Shelley (née Godwin) as a female author -- and the unique challenges that came with her gender in the literary world of 1818 -- than in the creation of Frankenstein...

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