31 January 2006 | The_Void
Visually stunning hypnotic nightmare!
Despite it's uninspiring title, Ken Russell's "Gothic" is actually an intriguing, and uniquely inspiring piece of cinema. Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" is one of the stories that has helped to shape horror cinema, and so the story behind it is guaranteed to interest horror fans. This film isn't exactly the story of how the story came to fruition; but rather a compilation of ideas surrounding "what could have happened" (but quite clearly didn't). The film takes influence from the enigmatic Lord Byron more than anything, and it's always him that springs to mind as we watch the small cast delve into their imaginations, culminating in an orgy of sex and violence. The story is simple, and focuses more on imagery and the ideas behind what is happening on screen. We follow Percy Shelly and his wife to be, Mary; along with her sister Claire, who travel to the self-exiled home of Lord Byron. While there, the four of them; along with Byron's biographer, decide to indulge in the art of making up ghost stories. However, the fun gets out of hand when the quintet begins to believe that they have actually created a monster.
The film has a very 'intellectual' flavour, but the fact is that there isn't a lot below the surface of this film. Gothic, to me at least, is a visual treat rather than food for thought - with Ken Russell's imagery providing more than any deep and complex substance. The imagery is stunning, and fits into the film very well. Russell's sets compliment the story excellently, and the atmosphere in which the film takes place is more important than the story itself. Lord Byron's house is almost a character within itself, and when combined with the actual characters; Russell has provided horror fans with a very surreal film indeed. The cast is excellent. Films with a small cast rely more on their actors, and this film certainly doesn't fall down in that respect. Gabriel Byrne leads the cast, and does an excellent job of holding the film together. Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson, Myriam Cyr and Timothy Spall, who all portray their characters excellently, join him. On the whole; I can easily see why people dislike this film; as it's somewhat messy, and doesn't adhere to common horror standards - but if you like your horror different, this is highly recommended.