Mary Shelley Movie Review (2017), The Woman Writer Who “Created” Frankenstein’s Monster


Do you know who first created the Frankenstein monster figure ? Frankenstein’s monster figure was created by a female writer, named Mary Shelley—circa 1815, when she was 18 years old. Frankenstein’s monster becomes an important character in Mary Shelley’s fiction book Frankenstein or The Modern Prothemeus, one of the classic collections of English literature and is recognized as the world’s first science-fiction novel . The story of how Mary Shelley got inspired and wrote Frankenstein or The Modern Prothemeus,that is what is retold in the film Mary Shelley (2017). An epic biographical film, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, a talented female director from Saudi Arabia.

Mary Shelley Movie Reviews (2017)

Frankenstein as a monster figure that we often see in contemporary works of art and literature can be said to have been modified a lot from the Frankenstein monster that was first created by Mary Shelley. In fact, Frankenstein as a novel is much more than a horror story or a ghost story— Frankenstein is a complex-reflective-and-imaginative symbolism of Mary Shelley herself, in her difficult and complicated life with Percy in the unconventional relationship they live in. Frankenstein actually talks about the basic need for deep relationships, but is answered with deep disappointment because they are met with isolation and neglect.

Although the title of this film is Mary Shelley , this film is actually a series of stories that fully highlights how Mary Shalley was finally able to write and publish her classic book, Frankenstein . Or indeed, Frankenstein is written so closely with inspiration from the tragedy of his own life that it cannot be separated from the figure of Mary Shelley at all. The title Mary Shelley might be considered better—to emphasize Mary’s overall biography as a woman writer who works and is recognized for her work.

This film is actually more of a gothic romance theme than a period drama , as quoted from — considering the tragic romance of Mary Shelley is the core story that colors the entire film. How he had felt loss, death, and betrayal—broken and angry, hurt and grieving. The romantic story begins with his acquaintance with Percy Bysshe Shelley, a 21-year-old philosopher and writer, who lives in the bohemian lifestyle of a wealthy family.

For Percy, who adheres to a bohemian lifestyle that tends to be very open, free and unconventional, the works written by Mary’s parents, who are also philosophers, have inspired her a lot. Percy didn’t like the conventional concept of a committed romantic relationship in marriage—he was looking for freedom, even though he was married and had children before he met Mary. He found that Mary also had no problem with an unconventional lifestyle, when she asked Mary for her opinion on the views and desires that many considered contradictory to her late feminist mother about ménage trois.(a condition in which three people share a romantic and sexual relationship in one household, a form of polyamory, an unconventional-contemporary form of bonding sometimes identified as a throuple, thruple, or triad). Mary said she had no problem with it, “ People should live and love like they wish. “They finally decided to live together (cohabitation) without marriage ties, separating themselves from their respective families. A lifestyle choice that was considered very inappropriate for European society at that time, which caused them to be engulfed in rumors, gossip and scandals.

In the experience of living with Percy, Mary realized so many things that hurt her. As it turned out, despite being quite vocal with an unconventional lifestyle and the freedom to love, as Percy and his own mother espoused—Mary didn’t want that. He loves Percy alone, and is disappointed that it turns out, Percy is still not enough with Mary. Many of Percy’s infidelities are also carried out in the original story, but not too much is recounted in this film. One drawback, perhaps, which makes the ‘betrayal’ ( betrayal ) felt by Mary and also inspired to write Frankensteinso not so sharp. Or perhaps, the hurt feelings of being ‘betrayed’ are emphasized in the scene where Percy seems to have no problem when Mary tells about Percy’s close friend of philosophers (Hogg), trying to force Mary to have sexual contact. Instead, Percy said he was disappointed that Mary had absolutely no thought of a romantic-sexual relationship with Hogg and labeled her a hypocrite who couldn’t do what he believed in.

There was clearly a non-trivial difference in viewpoint, it turned out, between Percy and Mary. This reality is highlighted in the film from the moment they are caught in the fire of their first love living together. After inspiration spills over from a passionate romantic relationship, the two each write—but about very different reflections. Mary tends to see freedom to love focused on love, while Percy tends to see freedom to love focused on freedom. In this case, the message of Harriet Shelley (Percy’s first wife) is true, “ Idealism and love give us courage, but they did not prepare you for the sacrifice required to love a man like Percy. ”

Together with Percy, Mary actually went through a lot of difficult things. Including when he had to repeatedly change his residence because Percy was being chased by creditors. Since the Percy-Mary scandal was revealed to the public, Percy’s rich father refused to provide financial support for his son, which he considered ‘shameful’ his name. Including when her first baby and Percy (Clara), died of illness. Mary grieved, deeply saddened and depressed, because of this loss and death.

Including when Mary realized that their unconventional lifestyle may require too many sacrifices. He sees his beloved half-sister (Claire), suffer the same pain from trying to undergo a similar ‘scandal’ (sexual-romantic relationship without marital status) with Lord Byron. Claire was abandoned and forgotten, considered nothing more than a sexual servant—when Claire wished Lord Byron to marry her after she conceived their child. Including when Percy wept for his wife who had died by suicide, after Percy chose to leave him and live with Mary.

All these tragedies sparked a burning inspiration in Mary to write Frankenstein. Told in the film, as well as historical records, Mary competed with Percy, Lord Byron, and dr. Polidori to write the best horror stories. Frankenstein started from that competition: born out of a complex mix of his passion for science, the dream he had about scientists who managed to bring dead humans back to life by science experiments, and the tragedy of life that Mary herself experienced-and-witnessed.

However, once again a reminder, that Frankenstein , like The Vampyre (which was written by Dr. Polidori and copyrighted by Lord Byron—whose story is also included in this film), is more than a horror story. Both are a deep reflection of Mary and dr. Polidori about the complicated reality of social life which is then imagined and written in fiction. Where (as quoted from the dialogue of the characters in this film), dr. Polidori wrote The Vampyre because she saw the figure of Lord Byron, who is like a ‘blood-sucking’ soul like a vampire—and Mary wrote Frankenstein because she saw the figure of Percy, an irresponsible narcissist. Frankenstein figuredefinitely not just a ‘stupid brainless but soft-hearted’ monster as portrayed in today’s contemporary media.

The film Mary Shelley (2017) is another talented work from Haifaa Al-Mansour that deserves appreciation. Elle Fanning also deserves appreciation for playing the character of Mary Shelley admirably, successfully ‘visualizing’ the heroine and historical female character from the 1800s to be closer to the audience of the 20th century. The film Mary Shelley (2018) would not have been created well without the female characters who took part in it.

The uniqueness and strength of this film lies in the poetic narratives throughout the film, especially the poetic narratives quoted directly from Mary’s writings. The dialogues between the characters are intelligent, as well as filled with many meanings that captivate the audience. The film’s epilogue concludes with an epic, quoting the last sentence of Frankenstein’s book . (Frankenstein, Mary Shelley).

—Mary Shelley, in Frankenstein (1817)
Mary Shelley, or Mary Godwin (before she married Mr. Percy Bysshe Shelley, still inherited her father’s last name), as told in the film Mary Shelley(2017) is a young woman who loves to write and loves to read. He is the son of a radical political philosopher, Mr. William Godwin and writer-feminist Mrs. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin—both of whom wrote the well-known and acclaimed books of the time. However, Mary never knew her mother other than through her father’s stories and books written by her mother, because her mother died 10 days after bringing her into the world. This reality was quite painful for Mary, she felt abandoned and neglected, even though she still greatly admired her mother figure. Moreover, Mary has a stepmother from her father’s second marriage, with whom she is on very bad terms—but fortunately, is able to forge a very close and excellent brotherly relationship with her half-sister (Claire Clairmont),

“Wanting for my happily-ever-after, I lowered my defenses, forgetting the first lesson I was taught: That I was brought into this world to be abandoned; that I am irrevocably alone. ”

—Mary, in the film Mary Shelley (2017)
Mary Shelley loves writing. He often had to be alone at his mother’s grave to write. However, as recounted in this film, he doesn’t have much time to write because his stepmother doesn’t like it. He also has many responsibilities to help with family matters. Although he holds the title of political philosopher who is recognized for his writings, Mr. Godwin (his father) is still struggling economically and in debt. Therefore, running away with Percy, became one solution that Mary considered good at the time: she could write freely, with inspiration that continued to abound in her early relationship with Percy. Percy, indeed became a source of inspiration, including to write Frankenstein – although that does not mean that inspiration is always good and happy.

“It is the message for mankind. What would you…What would we know of hope and perfection? Look around you. Look at the mess we made. Look at me.”

—Mary to Percy, in Mary Shelley (2017)
In this film, Mary Shelley is highlighted as the main character, a heroine who has a feminist spirit like her mother. Throughout the film, it is also described how Mary is very brave to stand up for herself—even though she doesn’t label herself a feminist. The ‘struggle for equality’ is very thickly told towards the end of the film, about Mary’s journey to publish Frankenstein’s book . She was rejected many times by publishers, who did not dare to take risks for a young female writer who was involved in a ‘scandal’. For the same reason, her ability to write was also in doubt—to how angry and disappointed Mary was when she was accused of stealing Percy’s work. When finally, Frankensteincould be published for the first time in 1818, Mary was forced to give up the book published without her name written there. Frankenstein must be published without the author’s name (anonymous), but with a foreword written by Percy for the opening page. After all, he had done his best to try to publish the book. He had no other choice.

“Are you suggesting that the work is belonging to Mr. Shelley? It’s my story. Did you ask this to Mr. Or do you save this insult for the young woman? And you dare to question a woman’s ability to experience loss, death, betrayal. Would you ever realize if you employed the time judging the work, instead of judging me.”

—Mary, in the film Mary Shelley (2017)
Frankenstein turned out to be very well received as a very intelligent literary work. It is considered the most complete and original work of the period, as mentioned by Mr. Godwin in this film. It was a grievous sadness, for Mary, not to be able to publish Frankenstein in her name—and even Percy, who wrote only the preface, was all appreciated. However, Mr. Godwin (Mary’s father) then helped with the second printing—where Mary Shelley’s name could be written as the author of Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, in the end.

The figure of Mary in the film Mary Shelley (2017) represents every woman who writes about the tragedy of life, including the tragedy in her own life. Representing every woman who writes to stay afloat in life’s tough journey. Mary Shelley in the movie Mary Shelley(2017) represent every female writer who experiences gender discrimination just because she was born a woman, every female writer who is underestimated and doubted can produce amazing work because of her young age or the different path of life she chooses to live, every female writer who must endeavored to publish his work. The women who finally find their voice in tragedy through reflection and imagination, through the power of paper and pen.