Gothic 1986 ***

The ash-clouded summer that Mary Shelley spent at Lake Geneva has been the subject of several films; Ken Russell’s 1986 phantasmagoria is probably the least authentic, but arguably the most imaginative. The late Natasha Richardson is Mary to Julian Sands’ Shelley, with Gabriel Bryne as a cane-toting Lord Byron and Timothy Spall dealing out the laudanum as the wayward Dr Polidori. Russell clearly enjoys having some potent hallucinatory imagery to get his teeth into, and Gothic features demonic imps and nipples that morph into eyes amongst the smorgasbord of strangeness. Russell doesn’t shy away from the sexual aspect either; it’s a wonder any literature was produced at all by these eccentric, hedonistic characters. Dexter Fletcher also features.


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