Wellesley College Celebrates 200th Anniversary of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’
Wellesley, Mass.(Feb. 10, 2016)—In the past few years, mashups—like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, currently in theaters—have meant classic works have undergone radical pop transformations at the hands of Hollywood. Wellesley College is taking a decidedly more unique approach in its celluloid celebration of the 200th anniversary of one classic text, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. For the prestigious all-women’s college, Shelley embodies an artist who, despite a literary world hostile to women writers, produced one of our most enduring stories, one that continues to be re-interpreted by every generation.
The College’s popular movie series, Cinephile Sundays, is honoring Shelley herself, and by extension the iconic horror story of science gone awry, by screening several films on campus. Some films allude to Shelley’s life; others reflect on, in often invitingly oblique ways, her famous monster and the issues brought up by her novel. The films being screened are stitched together under a theme of “Exquisite Combinations,” bringing to life the ways Shelley and her work have gone on to inspire filmmakers. In this series of five very different films, Shelley’s Gothic 19th-century literary vision plays out in a 20th-century artform, creating new conversations and foregrounding the long shadow of her influence and life.
One of the most exciting offerings is a screening of the silent film Metropolis, on Sunday, Feb. 28th, accompanied by a rare live musical soundtrack. This triumph of Weimar Germany filmmaking is about Maria, an artificial woman created in the lab in Metropolis. The music will be performed by Alloy Orchestra, a three-man musical ensemble that Roger Ebert referenced as “the best in the world at accompanying silent films.” The group works with a wild assemblage of peculiar objects, some from unlikely sources. The synergy of film and music, undergirded by Shelley’s influence, is the perfect example of an ‘exquisite combination.’
The first film in the series is perhaps the most explicit in its connection to Shelley’s story. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) screens Sunday, Feb. 14. It is the first sequel to the 1931 hit Frankenstein. It is widely seen as director James Whale’s masterpiece and is viewed as an icon in the genre of classic horror.
The remaining films reflect widely different styles, take place around the globe, and have very different connections to Shelley and her work. The films include one on the persistent theme of man and machine (Paprika), another about the haunting effect the film Frankenstein has a little girl (El espiratu de la colmena), and lastly a film featuring another woman pioneer, Ada Lovelace, who calculated the first computer algorithm (Conceiving Ada). All films are screened in Wellesley’s Collins Cinema, and times and dates can be found here.