Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Frankenstein and the Vampyre: A Dark and Stormy Night – review

Director: Philip Smith

Release date: 2014

The story of the events at Villa Diodati on the shore of Lake Geneva in 1816 was the subject of this dramatised documentary shown by the BBC over Halloween 2014.

Villa Diodati
Of course the story has been fully dramatised several times most poetically with the film Gothic and also in the film Rowing With the Wind (which I did not feature on the blog as the Polidori aspects were absolutely marginalised).

Hannah Taylor Gordon as Mary Shelley
The reason, of course, that the events are so very important is because, at the urging of Byron (Rob Heaps), the residents of Diodati had a story writing competition that eventually led to the composition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Hannah Taylor Gordon) and the Vampyre: A Tale by Polidori (Sam Swann). As such it spawned two of the pillars of modern horror, one of which being the first English language vampire prose.

Neil Gaiman
This documentary tracks the events and is narrated by Claire Foy (Vampire Academy) and has commentators such as Neil Gaiman involved. The documentary does tell us the bare bones of the story (though perhaps more could have been said about the origins of Ruthven’s name amongst other things). There was nothing within it that was factually incorrect, that I noticed, and is thus a perfectly good primer for those unfamiliar with the story but offered no new or keen insights for those of us more conversant with the events. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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