Success Is the Best Revenge
Mary Shelley tells the story of a young girl in England who wrote the famous Frankenstein novel back in the 1800s. Romance, imagination, misery, love of writing and feminism combine in this intriguing biopic starring Elle Fanning, who gives the performance of her career in the title role. This movie had a special impact on me because in a way, Mary Shelley is responsible for my obsession with films. My first memory involves being a young child hiding under a theater seat looking up at the Frankenstein monster. I was both terrified and fascinated at the same time. From that day forward, Iíve been hooked on movies. But I digress.
As the child of two liberal literary figures (William Godwin, a political philosopher and novelist, and Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication for the Rights of Woman), Mary must have inherited a love of writing. Because Maryís mother died shortly after her birth, she is raised by her intellectual father (Stephen Dillane) and a strict stepmother (Joanne Froggatt) she does not like. Up until her romance with Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth), Mary feels close to her father. She also loves her younger sister (Bel Powley), who canít get enough of Maryís imaginative made-up stories, especially the spooky ones. And Mary reads everything she can get her hands on.
Then, while still a teenager, she meets the dashing Percy. She falls hard for this handsome poet, and their passionate romance begins. Thatís when everything changes -- not necessarily for the better.
Mary believes in ďfree loveĒ just like Percy. The problem? She loves Percy only, but he practices this belief. The result? Marriage misery. However, Percy does want Mary to write, even though he thinks her work could be so much better. One fateful night during a terrible thunder storm, Percyís friend Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) suggests a story contest, which motivates Mary to start thinking about a tale that ultimately becomes Frankenstein.
When the book is published, Maryís name does not appear as the author. Remember, itís a time when women should not be writing about such things. Percy pens the introduction, so most people assume heís the author. After the success of this first publication, the second one gives Mary Shelley her well-deserved author credit.
Women authors have faced the plight,
lack of respect, and thatís not right.
MARY SHELLEY, a fine movie,
shows how sad this fact can be.
Maryís father and husband too
felt her writing just would not do.
But she earned fame despite their gall.
Her creation surprised them all.
Mary wrote the first sci-fi book.
With Gothic themes, just take a look.
Frankenstein makes life from the dead.
His Creature lives and causes dread.
This biopic is quite a treat.
Acting and visuals? Hard to beat.
Dramatic license Ė whatís the fuss?
Thatís all done to entertain us.
(Released by IFC and rated PG-13 for sexuality and thematic elements including substance abuse.)
For more information about Mary Shelley, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.