The Escapist Poets
The poet, Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) who Mary (Elle Fanning) meets at 16 when she is sent away to Scotland to avoid further fractions in her relationship with her step-mother. Percy, 21 at the time, falls for her and eventually follows her back to London, only revealing that he is already married, to someone who he now does not love. The bohemian free movement between relationships he presumes meets with Mary’s support. The men in Mary’s life are not good with numbers, both her father and Percy struggle financially and get out of their depth. A skill in one area of life does not include another. Percy eventually borrows against his future inheritance. All, it seems, because he has fantasies about how he should live.
One Night in Geneva
Lord Byron’s (Tom Sturridge) appearance merely provides yet further resources to alleviate the boredom through various traditional means of escape. I cannot recall quite where I heard it, but I remember someone telling me how they thought that the 1816 dinner-party in Geneva where both Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) and Vampires (John Polidori played by Ben Hardy) were created would be a marvellous night to be a guest at the table. Yet, the night passes damply without any real sense of occasion at all.
History has given credit to Byron as one of England’s greatest poets. What I suspect the film is trying to convey is the sense of his rather selfish sense of entitlement. At 28 he was the eldest of the group in 1816. Polidori being 21 Percy Shelley 24 and Mary just 19. The men, for all their indulgences did not live long afterwards.
Facebook – Victorian Style
Sadly, this film does not do justice to the more radical views of Mary Shelley, instead contorting the story into something that is more like a petulant teen romance. Her own children conspired to hide her feisty nature by doing something of an early Victorian PR work on her character. Mary Shelley was a woman with much to say about society, yet even today most mistake her creation’s very name.
Stories are important to me; your story is the one you tell and want retold (to some extent). Therefore, it seems logical to live by design – on your own terms, how you wish to, not dictated by others. Your finances need to be the architecture around your lifestyle, supporting and ensuring it can continue, but unless you reveal your story to your adviser, how on earth is that possible.
Here’s the trailer.
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