Frankenstein: Behind the Scenes


Elle Fanning as Mary Shelley reading her masterpiece, once it was done in “1818”.

Susana Obando, Discoverer Staff Writer

What was the inspiration for the famous fictional novel, “Frankenstein”? This timeless book has a story behind it, inspired by many events from the life of the author–Mary Shelley–which are portrayed in a beautiful, powerful, self-titled film.

The movie “Mary Shelley” is a dramatic/romantic movie directed by Haifaa al-Mansour, based on Shelley’s real life. Elle Fanning, who portrays Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, is a clear representation of women empowerment throughout the whole movie. Its scenes and situations impact the viewer, leaving them wanting more.

From a very young age, women were expected to limit themselves to house chores, caring for their kids, and nothing else; let the man bring food to the table. This was life for Mary Wollstonecraft, daughter of intellectual parents; committed to society’s expectations most of her life until she decided to take control herself. The suffragette movement is crucial in history, and it is explicitly displayed in “Mary Shelley,” as well as in “Iron Jawed Angels,” directed by Katja Von Garnier. With a release difference of 14 years, people are still willing to talk about and defend women’s role in society, truly something to be respected. “Iron Jawed Angels” is about all the strikes, marches, and worldwide campaigns held by women, specifically in the USA. Mary, through acts such as running away with her lover Percy, stands up as well for what she believes. Proving to be an activist on a small scale, she refuses to internalize her unconformity.

As mentioned before, Mary Shelley confronts society and her family, doesn’t follow stereotypes, and lives life her own way. When she meets Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth) the connection is inevitable, but because he’s married, her family forbids the relationship. She decides to follow her heart and be happy, leaving everything behind to get away with him. Also, she brakes stereotypes by fighting to publish “Frankenstein” and getting rejected because of her gender. Another movie with a fierce female lead is Disney’s “Mulan,” who was also criticized for being a woman and wasn’t allowed to fight during the war. Both of these characters had to hide from society: Mulan passed as a man with a costume, and Mary Shelley turned to anonymity so her book wouldn’t be judged.

The character interpreted by Elle Fanning is strong, brave, mature, and intelligent. All of this is evident, solely from watching the movie; there is remarkable detail. Katniss Everdeen, the main female lead on the Hunger Games saga, has many of these characteristics. Although the movie genre is vastly different, both characters relate because they find paths to reach a sense of belonging. Katniss does it by winning the games and Shelley by finally publishing the acclaimed novel, “Frankenstein.”

The fact that Saudi Arabia’s first female director is in charge of putting together a film where the most prominent theme is a feminist movement really highlights the idea of entitlement. Her choices for music, special F/X, clothes, and sound effects, are simply perfect. Because the movie is not set in the current age, there was more effort and thought required for it to look real and stay loyal to that era. On the other hand, this sometimes backfired, since their antiquated accent and dialect was difficult to understand.

An extraordinary movie, for lovers of drama and romance. It not only provides background information about a great piece of literature (“Frankenstein”) but evokes countless emotions with a heartwarming tale of romance and rebellion.