Our film opens in a spacious and decadent turn of the century study, the looming windows holding the horrors of a storm at bay. Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) stands looking out, noting how it is “the crudest savage exhibition of nature”, a commentary nonetheless on Mary Shelley’s noteworthy success of Frankenstein. Or perhaps it’s both a meta-statement that also works to scrutinize the societal place women must adhere to, one that still resonates to this day.
Our Lord, who proclaims himself England’s greatest sinner amongst an angel, Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester), regards the frightful storm as nature’s applause for both a sinner and a poet, Percy Shelley (Douglas Walton). It’s Mary, sitting quietly underneath the presence of men, who finds the thunder alarming. Her gown’s aura, angelic in quality, contrasts the dark nature of Mary’s mind, which pieced together the monster that terrorized a village in James Whale’s 1931 precursor, Frankenstein.