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Mary Shelley

6.42 h 1 min201812
The tempestuous romance that inspired one of Gothic literature’s most influential works is brought to life in Mary Shelley, a luscious and moving period drama starring Elle Fanning and directed by Haifaa al-Mansour (Wadjda).
Haifaa Al-Mansour
Elle FanningMaisie WilliamsDouglas Booth
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Supporting actors
Joanne FroggattTom SturridgeBel Powley
Amy BaerRuth CoadyAlan Moloney
Curzon Artificial Eye
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.2 out of 5 stars

490 global ratings

  1. 58% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 17% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Finn ArmadilloReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 September 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Elle Fanning shines as Mary Shelley
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The novel “Frankenstein” has never been faithfully adapted for the big screen so perhaps it’s no surprise that this biopic plays fast and loose with the facts of the life of its author, Mary Shelley. For example, Mary didn’t write “Frankenstein” in one night as this movie suggests, but took about sixteen months to do so. Harriet Shelley didn’t commit suicide while her husband and Mary were in Geneva but when they were back in England. And Fanny Imlay, Mary’s older step-sistîer who also lived in the Godwin home, is written out of this film altogether. There are several other changes to, or omissions from, Mary Shelley’s life throughout this movie. So long as you don’t mind some serious artistic license there is much to enjoy here.

Director Haifaa al-Mansour’s successfully captures Mary’s life in broad strokes. He is also served by a great cast: Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth shine in their respective roles as Mary and Shelley, and are given able support by Bel Powley as Mary’s other step-sister Claire Clairmont. Tom Sturridge plays Lord Byron with scenery-chewing gusto, but perhaps that’s how Byron was; it’s certainly how he is always portrayed. Ben Hardy’s performance lends John Polidori a quiet dignity although his moving, final meeting with Mary is, alas, entirely fictional. The various elements that inspired Mary’s writing of “Frankenstein” - the loss of her daughter Clara, her estrangement from her father, the science and philosophies of the day - are all effectively portrayed .

My only disappointment is that the film ends with the publication of “Frankenstein”. It may have been her biggest success, then and now, but a life so full of tragedy, drama and later triumph deserves to be told in its entirety.
18 people found this helpful
Leslie VaizeyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 September 2018
2.0 out of 5 stars
Frankenstein was a joint effort !
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It is a great pity that films like this that start out, I guess with good intent do not follow the historical facts, and also fail to avoid modern féministe revisionism. It is a pity especially as the Percy/Mary couple are an extraordinary experiment in living according to anarchist principles: without a master! The poet acted as an educator to the brilliant young mind of Mary and they worked together for research of the subject The work of Frankenstein was a joint effort and the glory of both was that they wrote and corrected the work to the best of their joint capabilities. Mary dreamt the idea and Shelley injected the engineering and most of the text revisions. Although Godwin also did some changes on later versions of Frankenstein. What is completely zapped from the film is that Shelley, the husband pushed and helped Mary to complete, and gave her the will to assume the creation which, could be addressed as an Androgyne oeuvre. The film should not be viewed by children trying to understand the history of a remarquable co-operation. It is a pity that the reality of the incredible achemy of such a meeting of great artists and poets, including Byron has not been properly developed in the film. The film portrays Shelley as superficial when in reality he was an incredibly well read and brilliant thinker who had already developed the Prometheus myth. "Can Man be free if woman is a slave" was written by Shelley. His Relationship with Byron was deep and valuable to both of their works and creativity. Nevertheless, the film brings back from the grave one of Britain’s finest poets and most brilliant minds and his companion and equally brilliant wife Mary and their life and work together.
24 people found this helpful
Susie BookwormReviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 September 2018
3.0 out of 5 stars
Good film but unfair to Percy Byshe Shelley.
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I found this to be a watchable film, good to look at and well researched, as far as costumes and sets but lacking in truth as to the marriage of Mary and Percy Shelley. The acting skills of the actors playing the main characters are very good, particularly Douglas Booth as Shelley. He mentioned, in his interview in the extras section, his study of Shelley in Richard Holmes' wonderful biography 'Shelley: The Pursuit'. It is a shame that the director, producer and writer of the screen play did not also read this book before making the film! It is quite obvious that Frankenstein was a collaboration between Mary and Percy but in the interests of the feminist canon, this is not acknowledged in this film. As a woman, I make this statement: we cannot achieve equality with men by demeaning them, we can only be equal by sharing! There was no mention of Shelley's belief in social justice, no mention of his wonderful poem 'The Mask of Anarchy', in response to the horrors of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester , in 1819. He was portrayed as some kind of Regency Buck, staggering about drunk, when he was actually a man of complicated beliefs, with a genuine love of liberty, equality, fraternity. Just look on YouTube to see the people still quoting 'The Mask of Anarchy' as a symbol of freedom for the working man and woman! 'Rise up! Rise up! Ye are many, they are few!'
19 people found this helpful
MReviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 November 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great story .close just a 4 year period in their lives .Great Acting. -
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Great Acting . Pretty close to real story of Her early life , Keeps You engrossed in film & Characters from the start . And one of those films - made Me dying to know - more - real story how different Film script , & what happened next -in their lives . Film could be twice as long just the few short Years it covers - so much more interest in All Characters , from His first wife from Very rich family , lived in Her Fathers & family in their huge London House . And huge intrigued surrounding Her death .Shellys married 2 weeks after His first , wife - Suspected suicide - or was it ? & Heavily pregnant 3rd Child - was it Shelly's ? . But Shelly so much more interesting person than can be portrayed in hour & half film . The Shellys escaped -& lived abroad - Shelly feared imprisonment - for His writing . way ahead of his time - radical political / philosophy / religion - ( no free press then ) & lived most of their Married life abroad , Settled Venice for few years , travelled extensively ( for time ) Always short money - Shelly Never made any money in His lifetime . tragedies so sad - Children's deaths 5? & Just one Surviving child - a son ,& Mary many miscarriages . Shellys tragic death age 29:( again surrounded - in intrigue even or murder ) & Sad Shelly Never made any money from His writing in His lifetime , Money always short , . Marys Father actually never spoke to Her until Shellys married . Life they led fascinating , cut off from society ,always short money , artist People their friends , lord Byron life long friend ( His life again - so interesting )Shelly - prolific writer ,big part books on His ahead of His time then radical - political / Society / religious views - , But no free press , so banned . Never recognised in His life time . After His death Mary dedicated most of Her life compiling books of His work. But what finally allowed to be published - Mary Had to get His Fathers permission -& Highly censored what was included . More radical poems cut , for published works then .in Marys later life - ( died in Her 50s) His poems gaining recognition. Now thought be One greatest Poets Britain ever had . Other Books interesting on Vegan diet .Animal rights & welfare .Again so ahead of His time & farm Animal welfare today ,sadly even worse .Factory farming , cruel long distance live exports - etc . He was a tea total - All His life . So Much more interesting Man than portrayed in Film , As was Mary . After His death , Sounds like Mary had a quite lonely life .Dedicated to bringing Up Her Son, editing & getting published Her Husbands work . She travelled - travel books - & few novels - She scraped a living . Again Frankenstein ,Huge success after Her death . So want Film 2/ 3 / 4 & documentaries - so much more to be told - But brilliant Film , for tiny snapshot in Maybe 5 years of Her life . And what a great Actress . & so Young .2019 - celebrated Her 21st Birthday . - Watch Teen Spirit 2019 - Singing voice pretty amazing & Her English accent again ! Well never realised She was American until saw Her on in interview of “Teen Spirit “ on Amazon prime too - Good see more few Newer films to rent. But so Few - Love Film by post Amazon took over - ( now Prime Video ) Then ALL Cinema films - from release, to DVD on My doorstep, 6 months max . And keep CD for a month if wanted - in reality posted back & next film on Your priority ranked wish list - get within 4 days . Shame - Miss love film . Streaming fine - Such limited New Cinema releases - A huge loss . I had a tragic accident ,now disabled & I can not get to Cinema. I do like Prime Video but really miss -watching New Films in cinemas now . Or 3 months later to watch . Love Film by post -Huge loss & Shame on Amazon for its take over & then replacing it supposedly in streaming. Not even close to same service . Sad .
HudReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 October 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Eighteen and you write this, goddess?
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Surrounded in a pub with dullards who are talking as if in an episode of Coronation Street my mind wanders to the coast of Italy, darkness descended, rain, harsh winds, and I see Mary, Percy, Polidori, Byron, Clare indulging in mind-games to keep boredom away and then Mary writes this wondrous tale of humanity as it grapples for life and only repeats death?

Any cinemaphile would struggle to see their mind's image translate to the screen, but this is a worthy try to bring alive a tiny instance in the life of the universe in which a young girl's consciousness exploded with the fury of a Chandresekar star.
6 people found this helpful
Andrew BuckleReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 June 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
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This story has been done many times and in many ways and I have many of the DVDs (Gothic etc) and they all have their good and bad points. I really enjoyed this one in its muted oddness and very good performances from the cast especially the main actress. The 'key' moment (the meeting of the great poets and start of Frankenstein) was not particularly covered for long so the film was more the early years and meeting with Shelley etc. I would love to see a film of the latter years, perhaps one day some one will do that film ?
Megalodon777Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 August 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
More Fiction than fact but worth watching
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Although Mary Shelley is historically inaccurate and revisionist, it is well-made and well-acted. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the complexities of the characters and the message is valuable and powerful. The film prompted me to look into the real story of Mary Woolstonecraft Godwin, which I would recommend to anyone interested in the experience of female authors, especially in those times. I also recommend a 19th century book by Catherine Crowe called 'The Night Side of Nature,' which is one of the best non-fiction books ever written about the Supernatural, for the same reasons.
Briony HolyoakeReviewed in the United Kingdom on 09 December 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
DVD of film......
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.....depicting the meeting of Mary with poet Shelley, prompting me to research more. A woman “before her time”, and determined to be “true to herself”. The anguish of child mortality, infidelity, the mores of the times, and her own life choices.
Brilliantly acted.
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