Frankenstein: A Modern Myth is a 2012 British TV documentary produced by Lone Star Productions/National Theatre. It was first broadcast on Channel 4 on Halloween night, 31st October 2012.
From Boris Karloff to Mel Brooks – Frankenstein has fired the imagination of generations of artists who have created their own interpretation of this Gothic masterpiece. Written by a 19-year-old girl nearly 200 years ago, this was the first and greatest myth of the modern scientific age.
Mary Shelley began writing her novel in Geneva, where she went to escape the judgmental gaze of British society with her lover, Percy Shelley (a married man), her half-sister Clare and Clare’s lover, the notorious poet, Lord Byron. Living a life of subversive glamour, they were like forerunners of subversive rock stars.
Shut up indoors during the wettest summer on record, Lord Byron suggested they each try to write a ghost story. Unable to begin, Mary panicked at first, but then in a waking dream she had the vision for her novel. Frankenstein – published anonymously in 1818 when she was just 21 – has gone on to inspire its own popular genre of horror films, punk rock, and theatre productions.
Frankenstein: A Modern Myth looks at some of these depictions, including Danny Boyle’s sell-out hit at the British National Theatre. The film has exclusive access to rehearsals and interviews with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller – who alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature – and with Danny Boyle. It also features cult film director John Waters: “I’m sympathetic to monsters, and this was the first one I came across as a child”.