IFC Films has debuted an official trailer for Haifaa Al-Mansour’s film Mary Shelley, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year. This biopic will explore the life of the author of Frankenstein, how she came to write the seminal Gothic novel and her relationship with Percy Shelley, a famed poet and known womaniser.
Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon, 2016) stars as Mary Shelley, with a knockout ensemble cast including Douglas Booth (Worried About The Boy, 2010) and Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones). Historically, Mary Shelley’s life was as scandalous as Georgian drama came – that is to say, very. She began an affair with the already married Percy at the young age of 17. The poet was already known as a trouble maker, so it was no surprise when the two eloped and ran off to France – leaving Percy’s pregnant wife behind.
Their return to England was not a happy one; they were ostracised and in constant debt. After Percy’s wife committed suicide, they were free to marry. In 1816, they famously spent the summer with Lord Byron in Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The filmmakers are describing this creation “as the product of unbridled imagination and profound grief”.
There’s clearly a lot of material to work with here, which is good. When first published, Frankenstein pushed the boundaries of literature by asking poignant and troubling questions about the nature of the scientist and his relation to the natural world. It is a disturbing read in many ways and we’re hoping this biopic reflects this and is more than just an intriguing period drama.
Daughter of political philosophers William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, who died giving birth to her, Mary (Fanning) is a bookish adolescent of humble means when she meets Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth), who, though only 21, is already a celebrated young poet — and a shameless womanizer with one collapsing marriage already under his belt. Defying her beloved but disapproving father, Mary absconds with Shelley — her stepsister, Claire, in tow. Mary seeks “unconventional approaches to living,” and finds it in spades with her debt-ridden bon vivant scribe, who desires neither monogamy nor the constraints of fatherly responsibility. Yet Percy believes in Mary, and two years into their union he whisks her away to a Swiss chateau for a summer of debauchery presided over by Lord Byron, where Mary will confront personal demons and compose the most influential horror novel of all time.