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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gods and Monsters

- Fraser and McKellen

This week's movie rental was Gods and Monsters, a film starring Brendan Fraser, Ian McKellen, and Lynn Redgrave, directed by Bill Condon, and with, as executive producer, horror novelist Clive Barker. A brief summary by Wikipedia ...

Gods and Monsters is a 1998 film which recounts the (somewhat fictionalized) last days of the life of troubled film director James Whale, whose homosexuality is a central theme ..... The movie was adapted ... from the novel The Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram .... The film won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Ian McKellen) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lynn Redgrave). The film features reconstructions of the filming of Bride of Frankenstein, a movie Whale directed. The title comes from a line in Bride of Frankenstein.

I rented the movie partly because I'm a fan of Brendan Fraser :-) but also because there's something about horror that's been speaking to me lately. The outsider-ness and despair which are part of the horror genre can be glimpsed in this film through the sadness of Frankenstein and also perhaps that of James Whale. And it didn't hurt that Clive Barker was involved (I've not been able to get through one of his stories, they're so creepy!).

Here's the beginning of a review of the movie by Roger Ebert ...

"Gods and Monsters" is a speculation about the last days of the director James Whale, who was open about his sexuality in an era when most homosexuals in Hollywood stayed prudently in the closet. Whale (1889-1957) directed some 21 films, but is best remembered for seven made between 1931 and 1939: "Frankenstein," "The Old Dark House," "The Invisible Man," "The Bride of Frankenstein," "Show Boat," "The Great Garrick" and " The Man in the Iron Mask." At the time of his death he had not made a movie in 16 years, but still lived comfortably, dabbling at a little painting and a little lusting.

He made some good movies ("Frankenstein" placed 87th on the American Film Institute's list of great American films, although "The Bride of Frankenstein" is by far the better of the two pictures). He began as an actor, lost his first love in World War I and joined the exodus to Hollywood, where he made a lot of money and never quite realized his potential. He must have seemed an attractive challenge to Ian McKellen, the gifted British Shakespearean who in this film and "Apt Pupil" is belatedly flourishing in the movies after much distinction on the stage.

McKellen playing Whale makes sense, but is it ideal casting to use Brendan Fraser ("George of the Jungle") as Clayton Boone, the young man who comes to cut the grass? Fraser is subtle and attuned to the role, but doesn't project strong sexuality; shouldn't the yard man be not simply attractive but potentially exciting to the old man? We never ever believe there's a possibility that anything physical will occur between them--and we should, I think .....

- the Bride of Frankenstein


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this movie. McKellen was magnificent, and I enjoyed Brendan Fraser as well.

It also made me go back to see the Bride of Frankenstein again, which is a great movie.

2:01 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Liam.

McKellen was really good - to think, I'd only really seen him as Gandalf and Magneto before this :-)

2:39 PM  
Blogger Talmida said...

I loved this movie too. If you're a McKellen fan, you might want to check out his Richard III.

6:25 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Ralmida :-)

10:48 AM  

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