DATELINE: Another Dark & Stormy Movie
Gang sits around on a dark & stormy night!
Someone read the Henry James novella Aspern Papers and found inspiration to make a movie about the real people (Mary, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley) that were fictionalized for literary movies, but made flesh for a biopic.
Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth make for a beautiful couple of poet Shelley and his young companion Mary Godwin. They are a couple of free-love, free spirits. Throw in the stepsister of Mary (Claire Claremont) who is moved to seduce Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) who greets Shelley with a kiss on the lips. Here we have the roots of The Aspern Papers.
It’s all the more intriguing because about ten years ago a lost manuscript of Claire was discovered in which she unloaded on the Romantic poets for their cruel attitudes.
This movie features Mary Shelley keeping her husband’s love letters and poems, savoring them. Of course, it was Claire who lived until 1879 and might have inspired Henry James to write his nasty novella about the mystery behind the free-love advocates.
The Shelleys meet Byron around the same time that Mary becomes fascinated with galvanism or electrifying dead bodies to bring them back to life.
The biopic is flavorful and masterly filmed, even giving us the dark and stormy night that Byron challenged them to write a ghost story. Dr. Polidori writes the first true vampire novel, and Mary writes Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus.
No one believes either was capable of such a feat—and their works were at first attributed to Shelley and Byron, respectively.
Byron comes across as a sniveling snake in this film, and Shelley is the whoremaster Mary’s father accuses him of being.
If you want to see the real Aspern Papers that Henry James alluded to in his covert way, this may be it.