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At a mansion by a lagoon nearly Geneva reunite (1816) various known
characters as Lord Byron (Hugh Grant), the poet Percy Shelley
(Valentine Pelka), his fiancée (Lizzy McInnery), her stepsister Claire
(Elizabeth Hurley) and Doctor Polidori (Jose Luis Gomez), Byron
ex-lover and secretary . The movie is situated in the time when Mary
Shelley wrote her novel "Frankenstein". There happens mysterious events
with appearance a fantastic personage trying to scare each other and
then occurs unfortunate deaths . Meanwhile , Mary Shelley has fabled
and hallucinatory nightmares .
This haunting film is based on real events about famous characters as the eccentric poet Lod Byron, , his secretary Doctor Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley . It concerns the deeds were inspired to write their classic Gothic novels , as Mary Shelley created ¨Frankestein¨ and Doctor Polidori wrote ¨The vampire¨. It's a romantic drama paced in slow-moving , enjoyable visuals and some nudism . It packs glamorous gowns by Ivonne Blake , Oscar winner for ¨Nicholas and Alexandra¨. Luxurious scenarios by Wolfgang Burmann , such as interior with lush palaces and breathtaking mansion from Venice (including a giraffe where resides Byron) and exteriors filmed in Norway , Venice, Veneto, Switzerland , Toledo , Asturias (beaches of Llanes), Spain. Colorful and brilliant cinematography by Carlos Suarez, director's brother . Stunning score with a sensitive leitmotif by Alejandro Masso , adding classical music by Bethoven , Mozart and Paganini . The picture was beautifully directed by Gonzalo Suarez who gives special treatment this interesting flick.
This story was formerly depicted in the ancient classic ¨The bride of Frankestein¨ by James Whale in which Elsa Lanchester played Mary Shelley . Subsequently in 1986 Ken Russell directed ¨Gothic¨ with Natasha Richardson as Mary , Gabriel Byrne and Julian Sands in similar characters and full of ordinary Russell's bag of tricks . And the same tale was told two years later by Ivan Passer who directed ¨Haunted summer (1988)¨ with Eric Stolz , Alice Krige and Laura Dern . But I think that ¨Rowing with the wind¨ is better than ¨Gothic¨ and ¨Haunted summer¨.
After watching this film, I thought to myself that it was an interesting film, and there were individual scenes which were strong. However, the pacing seemed to be a bit off, and somehow the flow of the film didn't feel right. Then, I noticed that the version I saw was 95 minutes long, while the original version was 126 minutes long. That's thirty whole minutes cut! As far as I'm concerned, this is criminal! Obviously, Miramax re-released this film during early 1999 in order to cash in on Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley. In the process, they cut the film to shreds, and perhaps rearranged the scenes around to make it more "coherent."
Rowing With The Wind took an excellent idea from the life of
Frankenstein's author, Mary Shelley. For anyone who is familiar with
the life of Mary Shelley, this film will make more sense and be
appreciated better. However, for the average movie-goer, this film will
probably be of disinterest. Having said that (and for those of you
still reading), I would have to applaud the youthful talents of today
stars, Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley, who play Lord Byron and Claire
Clairmont, respectively. This Spanish production keeps with European
exposure in several nude scenes, most notably of Elizabeth Hurley.
The film in a nutshell describes a visit to Lord Byron by Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Shelley, half-sister Claire Clairmont, and Byron's physician Dr. Polidori. According to history, Lord Byron challenged each of them to develop the most horrific story they could come up with. This is when Mary Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein, published in 1818. Oddly, Mary Shelley's biography was rife with a large number of deaths of those around her. Her mother died when she was born. One of her sisters died. Her husband's ex-wife died drowning. Ironically, her husband dies drowning.
She loses a couple of children. And on and on. She seemed so unable to escape death soon after the publication of Frankenstein. This film takes on the idea that her abominable creation is the cause of such deaths.
Kudos definitely go to whomever wrote the script for Lord Byron. Hugh Grant plays him brilliantly and in a very intelligently decadent sort of way. He's hilarious! Elizabeth Hurley and the other actors are good, not outstanding. But the film fails, despite its great plot creativity, when it hands out a quick and un-compelling revival of the evening in which Mary Shelley came up with Frankenstein. It gives far less attention than it should have, as I would have thought it a bigger turning point in the story.
With better direction and production (beginning of the film is a bit grainy), this would have truly made a compelling story. 5/10
This film has promise that is never fulfilled. Curly-topped Hugh Grant as
Lord Byron has to be seen to be believed. He wears the frilliest costumes
imaginable. With long hair and chest bared, he looks like he's auditioning
for a Lifetime biopic of Siegfried and Roy. One of the best (and
unintentionally comical) scenes is Grant howling out on a boat. He is too
fey and whimsical to make a credible Byron.
Another newcomer is a furry-browed, heavier set Elizabeth Hurley. She is beautiful. Yet, like Grant, she isn't ready for prime time. The scene where her sister, Mary, consoles her following a suicide is funny due to Hurley's exaggerated facial expressions.
The music labors on to new melodramatic Gothic depths. Music can enhance an atmosphere when the atmosphere is right. When it isn't, music only makes for another distraction.
The monster speaks in staccato. Due to editing, it's difficult to determine if he's a villain or victim. Sometimes it's difficult to determine if he even is.
I disagree with most of the critics, I think it's an excellent film. Camera, music, colors, everything is an harmonic combination. The only possible critic might be, the film can be a little be pretentious, but I would never describe it as tedious. You like it or hate it, I am fortunate ones.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't decide whether this is one of the best films I've ever seen or
one of the worst, but it is definitely one of the strangest. I was
expecting a benign period piece, with the challenge to write a horror
story issued over a glass of port in front of the fireplace. What I
found was an exploration of the egos, neuroses, and idiosyncrasies of
some very creative, intelligent, and troubled people. The appearance of
the monster in the middle of the film bothered me, but I've since
realized/decided/guessed that it's SYMBOLIC (emphasis intentional) of
the influence that Mary Shelley's book and its reception by the
literary world had upon this group of friends. I'm going to have to dig
out old textbooks and read up on these writers, as I don't recall
knowing before of the wave of suicides and unfortunate deaths which
washed over them in a short span of time.
The settings and photography of this film are as good as it gets, with beautiful natural light used most of the time. I'd recommend this movie to adult viewers, but not for anyone under 17. This thing would've been disturbing to me when I was in my early teens, and the monster would've scared the crap out of me.
I disagree with most of the critics, I think it's an excellent film. Camera, music, colors, everything is an harmonic combination. The only possible critic might be, the film can be a little be pretentious, but I would never describe it as tedious. You like it or hate it, I am of the fortunate ones.
Badly acted, with a sense of a lack of direction, the only saving grace
for this film are the wonderful settings and the score.
One would not recommend this movie to anyone other than fans of 'early Grant and Hurley', but one wonders how many of them there are!
The script is the biggest hurdle. While it contains wonderful references and allusions to the most interesting lines spoken by the historical personages, and does indeed contain some of the words of the poets, the script fills padded out with unnecessary archaisms at best and drivel at worst.
What is most strikingly dull about the work is the character of the monster. Whilst the monotony of the voice is supposed to give us certain Gothic impressions, we are left in fact with only a sense of horror at the poor delivery and rather senseless decision to characterize death and foreboding in this way.
You could stop this picture on any frame and have a beautiful photograph suitable for framing. That is the only good thing I can say about it. The acting is generally horrible (although I did like Mr. Gomez) and the former reviewer's description of the hilarity of Hugh Grant howling in a boat is spot on. I blame the writing and directing. Most of these actors are capable of much better when given decent direction and decent dialogue to speak. The female characters are not shown to have any talent of their own, as we know at least Mrs. Shelley surely did. On the other hand, the men don't display much talent, either! This whole film is a bit like a soap opera on TV, but the acting doesn't rise to that quality. Turn the sound off and enjoy its visual beauty.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought this was a very interesting take on Mary Shelley's
Frankenstein and the people and history surrounding it's creation. It's
slow but worth the wait, beautifully filmed. Hugh Grant and Valentine
Pelka do a fine job. Thankfully there is less of Grant's girlfriend of
the time, Liz Hurley. She should stick to modeling.
The use of the monster as an omen of death is very interesting.
I didn't really know much about the life of Shelley or Byron before this movie.
Be aware there is some nudity, but it is not what I would consider gratuitous. I looked it up. Shelley really would walk around his house nude. He even answered the door once with no clothes.
The locations are absolutely fabulous. I so want to tour Europe and stay everywhere this was filmed.
I really loved the music and wish there was somewhere with a more detailed list of the pieces used. There is a list of the composers in the credits, but they all wrote a lot of music. Which Beethoven piano sonata? Which Mozart? You could spend a lot of time trying to find the music. There is no soundtrack released that I am aware of so you're out of luck if you want to listen to the music in the car.
If you can get the DVD or VHS on sale, worth it. But I wouldn't pay full price.
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