Festival Premiere: where did we leave off? After the first three premieres of last spring, Ravenna Nightmare's section dedicated to auteur cinema is back with the preview of Mary Shelley by Saudi director Haifaa Al-Mansour, on Wednesday August 29th at 21 at Cinema City. Don't forget to keep your ticket and you will get a free entrance at Ravenna Nightmare's next edition (October 26th - November 4th 2018).
Introducing the screening will be Nevio Galeati, artistic director of literary festival GialloLuna NeroNotte, that from October 26th to November 4th will celebrate its XVI edition together with Ravenna Nightmare. As revealed in July's press conference, several GialloLuna NeroNotte's events will be organized on the occasion of the 200th year from Frankenstein's first publication by Mary Shelley, published anonimously for the first time in 1818. In particular, the first Italian edition of the original versionon will be presented on October 27th by publisher Neri Pozza. To be mentioned also the launch of a project with Ravenna's Fine Arts Academy that will focus, among other aspects, on the concepts of "artificial creatures" and "monsters".
Under the sign of an aberrant suture, like the one of Frankenstein, Haifaa Al-Mansour’s drama is a mélange of frailty and fighting spirit, of hunted innocence and vengeance’s fury going down in the relationship between Mary and Shelley, in its psychological obsessions and unacceptable losses. Daughter of two key-figures of the English Enlightenment, of whom she shares revolutionary ideas, Mary Shelley is at the heart of a movie intended to celebrate the writer's figure and to reiterate the debate on man-woman relationships.
Passionate about gothic literature and ghosts, Mary often goes in a cemetery dreaming of writing her novel. During a spell in the country, she meets restless poet Percy Shelley, married with childern, who seduces her and makes her fall madly in love with him. Their desider takes over and the lovers run away along wth Mary's younger sister. The three of them form a singular ménage, between ups and downs, misery and royalty. The very nobility that is preached but never applied by Lord Byron, famous and self-absorbed dramatist who challenges her on page and in life. Mary accepts and writes Frankenstein, winning eternity. With a novel (the novel), she succeeded in emancipating herself, producing over the year feminist and progressive works.
Embodying her on screen is Elle Fanning, surrounded by a male cast whose physiognomic and interpretative elasticity is reduced. She is the centre of a story where she will soon become the object of all desires. Elle Fanning belongs to that category of actors who need to do almost nothing to catch the eyes and it’s precisely what Nicolas Winding Refn portrayed in The Neon Demon.
In a condition of historical passivity, she finds an escape line and goes further than the film containing her and a society made out by men for men. Her Mary Shelley breaks fictional corsets, finding in herself an abyss of darkness to draw from to design her creature.
After denouncing fundamentalism and poligamy in Saudi Arabia and directing the first Saudi film in history (Wadjda), with Mary Shelley Haifaa Al-Mansour continues her personal research on exclusion. On the front line for the female cause, her look turns this time to the past in the Old Continent where she picks a young woman and her revolutionary enthusiasm. Stubborn just like Wadjda's protagonist, a little girl who is determined to earn a bycicle in a country forbidding women to ride it, Mary does the same in a claustrophobic time for her kind. In a dark and oppressive world she finds her most intimate voice and puts it on papaer, signing the last gothic novel and the first science-fiction literary work. Al-Mansour has the merit of choosing an actress capable of a modern articulation of Mary Shelley, encouraging once again the right to difference and to optimism. Optimism that is currently reserved only to viewers and forbidden to (Saudi) women who have no other perspective than surviving in a country producing ten million oil barrels per day and one film per century.