1986 Virgin Films poster
|Directed by||Ken Russell|
|Produced by||Al Clark
|Screenplay by||Stephen Volk|
|Story by||Lord Byron
Percy Bysshe Shelley
|Music by||Thomas Dolby|
|Edited by||Michael Bradsell|
|Running time||88 minutes|
Gothic is a 1986 British horror film directed by Ken Russell, starring Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron, Julian Sands as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley, Myriam Cyr as Claire Clairmont – Mary Shelley's half-sister – and Timothy Spall as Dr John William Polidori. It features a soundtrack by Thomas Dolby, and marks Richardson's film debut.
The film is a fictionalized tale based on the Shelleys' visit with Lord Byron in Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, shot in Gaddesden Place. It concerns the famous challenge to write a horror story, which ultimately led to Mary Shelley's writing Frankenstein and John Polidori's writing The Vampyre. The same event has also been portrayed in the films Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Haunted Summer (1988), among others.
Through her half-sister Claire Clairmont (Miriam Cyr), Mary Godwin (Natasha Richardson) and her future husband Percy Shelley [Julian Sands] came to know Lord Byron (Gabriel Byrne). During the summer of 1816, Lord Byron invited them to stay for a while at his Villa Diodati in Switzerland. There they met Byron's physician friend Dr John Polidori (Timothy Spall). On June 16th, while a storm raged outside, the five of them amused themselves by telling ghost stories and revealing private skeletons. From Mary's previous experience of miscarriage came the desire to raise her child from the dead which led to the creation of the Frankenstein monster. From Polidori's homosexuality, suicidal thoughts, and fascination with vampires came the story "The Vampyre".
- Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron
- Julian Sands as Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley
- Myriam Cyr as Claire Clairmont
- Timothy Spall as Dr John William Polidori
- Alec Mango as Murray
- Andreas Wisniewski as Fletcher
- Dexter Fletcher as Rushton
The film earned mixed reviews from critics and has a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 12 reviews, but according to Dan Ireland who later worked with Russell the film was a big success on video.
Awards and honors
Gothic was nominated for three 1987 International Fantasy Film Awards, and won two. Gabriel Byrne won as Best Actor, both for his role as Lord Byron in this film and for his role in Defense of the Realm, and the film also won for Best Special Effects. Director Ken Russell was nominated for Best Film, but did not win.
- BACKDROP: A WEEKLY COLUMN ON THE ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT Edited by Fergus Linehan. The Irish Times (1921–Current File) [Dublin, Ireland] 17 May 1986: 16.
- Dan Ireland on The Lair of the White Worm at Trailers From Hell
- "Awards" on IMDb.com
- Gothic at the Internet Movie Database
- Gothic at the TCM Movie Database
- Gothic at AllMovie
- Gothic at Rotten Tomatoes
- Gothic at Box Office Mojo