Politics Magazine

Fighting with Monsters

Posted on the 15 September 2014 by Steveawiggins @stawiggins

GothicThe Lady and Her Monsters reminded me of Gothic. A friend of mine in seminary showed me this “shocking” movie by Ken Russell just after it was released on VHS (I always was fond of ancient history). To my young eyes this was a challenging film, but it rated higher in moodiness than scariness. Roseanne Montillo’s book brought the movie to mind because, it turns out, several of the incidents in the movie were based on fact. Perhaps I need to take a step back because Gothic never made it big, and many may not realize that the movie is about the legendary night Mary Godwin (soon to be Shelley) came up with the idea for Frankenstein. In an early nineteenth-century walk of fame, Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin, Lord Byron, and John Polidori decided to write scary stories, as a kind of contest. Only two ever made it to print, Polidori’s The Vampyre, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula many decades later, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The movie, with Ken Russell’s famous flamboyance, traced an unlikely story of the friends conjuring a ghost and then banishing it once again before the stormy night is over.

Ken Russell had the reputation for being obsessed with the church and sexuality. These interests are certainly well represented in Gothic, where Percy Shelley, famously an atheist and believer in the supernatural, struggles to make sense of it all. Polidori, Byron’s personal physician, is presented as a Catholic who admits, when each has to confess his or her deepest fears, that God terrifies him. The friends (perhaps in an unwitting prelude to a television series by that name) explore sexuality and the supernatural through the long night. Waking nightmares meet them at every turn. They even have a skull of “the black monk,” a character attested in all sincerity, at one time, at the most gothic seminary in the Wisconsin woods.

“He who fights with monsters,” Friedrich Nietzsche opined, “might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” That which we worship is that which we fear. Certainly the Christianity of the Middle Ages had as much of Hell as of Heaven in it. Bursting out into the light of rationalism, it seems, did not banish the darkness after all. We still have many questions left unanswered, and many intelligent people have begun to question whether any one paradigm fits all of the evidence. I suspect not. Human experience goes in multiple directions at once. We have ladies, we have monsters, we have scientists, we have God. And on rainy nights we have movies that make us see that we have combined them all into a tale often repeated but never fully understood.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Vivo V9 With iPhone X Like Notch, 19:9 Display And 24-Megapixel Front Camera...

    Vivo has announced its latest flagship smartphone the Vivo V9 in India. The Vivo V9 comes with a near bezel less 6.3-inch Full HD+ (2280×1080) display with... Read more

    9 hours, 29 minutes ago by   Gadgetscanner
  • Don't Forget… #ClocksGoForward

    Don't Forget… #ClocksGoForward

    Don't forget that the clocks go FORWARD tonight… In Covent Garden… In Soho cafés… In Soho churches… In Fleet Street… In Forest Hill… A London Walk costs £1... Read more

    9 hours, 31 minutes ago by   Lwblog
  • Opera Review: Ghosts Busted

    Opera Review: Ghosts Busted

    The Met brings back Lucia di Lammermoor. by Paul J. Pelkonen Crazy for feelin' so blue: Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti (center, covered in blood) as the bride of... Read more

    10 hours, 45 minutes ago by   Superconductor
  • Album Review: Nora Jane Struthers and the Breakfast of Champions

    Album Review: Nora Jane Struthers Breakfast Champions

    Nora Jane Struthers first surfaced on my radar many years ago at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion as a bluegrass performer and her album Carnival was the... Read more

    10 hours, 48 minutes ago by   Winecompass
  • And the Spring Cleaning Begins . . .

    Spring Cleaning Begins

    Even though there's still snow in the shady places, it's feeling like Spring and that urge to clean has come upon me. I know, I should fight that urge, but we'l... Read more

    11 hours, 48 minutes ago by   Vickilane
  • Vanilla Poached Plums

    Vanilla Poached Plums

    I got a really good deal at the grocery shop the other day on some plums. A whole punnet for only 25 pence! How could I resist! We love plums! Read more

    13 hours, 48 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner
  • Metropolitan Opera Preview: Luisa Miller

    Metropolitan Opera Preview: Luisa Miller

    Placido Domingo returns (but not as the tenor lead) in Verdi's opera. by Paul J. Pelkonen Soprano Sonya Yoncheva (seen here in Otello) sings the title role in... Read more

    13 hours, 58 minutes ago by   Superconductor