Thursday, October 29, 2009


In what I trust is a highly fictionalized account, Gothic tells the story of Mary Shelley hanging out with Lord Byron and co. and finding the inspiration to write Frankenstein. In Ken Russell's vision, they all freak out on drugs, have transgressive sex and experience horrific visions.

If you're ever seen a Ken Russell film, you know that nobody does drug-fueled excess quite like him. The problem is, when there's nothing more than that excess, when it all boils down to debauchery and weirdness and nothing else, you aren't left with much of a film. It seems to me that Russell is best when he's working with a stronger narrative structure, where the insanity springs naturally from the story, like say Altered States. I'm not one to insist on traditional ideas of plot, I'm content if a movie meanders or even ignores typical narrative concerns, but Gothic tends to feel like a series of disconnected provocative images, heavy on style but never creating a coherent atmosphere or building towards any meaning.

No comments: