Let’s Talk about The Mother of Frankenstein

A period movie based on the life of a young Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who in 1816 at an extended house party, created Frankenstein’s monster. Only 18 years old in 1816, Mary created the first ever science fiction story – sparking a genre that has only grown in popularity.

Directed by Haifaa al-Mansour, with screenwriter Emma Jensen, this is a glossed over report of the “highlights” of the mother of Frankenstein.

The Good

The film by Mansour is centred on the period when Mary and Percy have run away together with her stepsister, and end up at Lord Byron’s villa in Switzerland. During ghost story challenge, Mary began to write Frankenstein – using some of her life experiences for inspiration.

This is a great point in time to place this story as it is the period that inspired her to begin her famous work, but it could have carried on showing more of her life and influences.

Marys Stepsister Claire Clairmont, is played by Bel Powley who gives a great performance as a foil for Mary, her seduction by Lord Byron adds some inspiration to Mary’s theme.

With the abandonment of Clairmont by Byron being related directly to Mary having Dr Frankenstein disgusted and abandoning his monster in the film. Though barely covered in the film, this relationship has more depth and energy than the stilted relationship between Mary and Percy.


The Bad

The movie has missed the boat completely, and made the drama and action almost dead boring. The life and experiences of Mary Shelley are perfect fodder for a sensationalised movie, but somehow, they have made it as dull as they could.

It’s like the film makers found something as exciting as horse racing betting and decided to make it sound like a day knitting with grandma.

Elle Fanning as Mary Shelley was not a great choice; she has continued her acting career by posing through each movie instead of acting.

Though she has the listlessness to be a morose teen that could come up with Frankenstein’s Monster, she does dot portrayed the passion Mary Shelley had for her love Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (played by Douglas Booth).


The Verdict

sure it has all the historical events ticked off, love – check, House party – check. But it skips over “unfortunate’ Scenes like Marys first child dying, that could have added to the understanding of her fuel for the monstrous story she creates.

Omitting her children altogether seems to be commonplace, as how can the godmother of science fiction be a loving parent.

The whole film seems to be protecting the good name of Mary Shelley and this form of late “cover up” is unnecessary as she has been dead for a long time and her life story is well known.

The result is a dull film that does no justice to the electrifying person that was Mary Shelley, only watch if you are uninterested in getting the real story of her and like staid watered down historical films.



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