Gods and Monsters

by KE Monahan Huntley

James Whale, as dapper in death as dressed for dinner, is the main character in Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters. He is conscious (mc symptom-self-aware) his deteriorating health (mc domain-universe) signals the inevitable end (mc thematic issue-destiny), however, the proper Englishman's courteous ways and impeccable manners remain unfailing--as does his ardent desire for beautiful boys (mc resolve-steadfast).

One young man Whale takes a fancy to is his new gardener Clay Boone, a heterosexual intent on staying that way (influence character domain-mind). Boone's throughline is attended to only enough to allow for a certain amount of character development--the emphasis of the film is on the relationship story.

The relationship between Whale and Boone is explored in the psychology domain, commencing on James Whales' part as a game of seduction. Boone is quite simply an Adonis in dire financial straits-which is why, in addition to keeping the estate well manicured, he agrees to sit for the director's sketches. His suspicions (ic unique ability) of Whales' motives toward himself, and the fact the cultivated gentleman is less than forthcoming about why he wishes to spend time with his unrefined gardener (rs inhibitor-falsehood), represses the relationship. Certainly, the two men are on unequal (rs problem-inequity) footing--the concept (rs concern) of an affinity ridiculous. Yet, as the past (mc concern) James Whale has neatly dismissed encroaches upon him, it points up a common ground. Further, like the Frankenstein he had created, he now (mc benchmark-present) needs a friend far more than a lover.

Boone wrestles with his perception (ic problem) of homosexuality. His innate decency and the confidences he shares (ic concern-memory) with the forgotten Hollywood player, however, eventually overcome his fears and reservations (ic resolve-change). Boone becomes (rs signpost 4) an intimate of James--who is not a god, not a monster, but a mere lonely mortal.

As an understated, character driven drama, Gods and Monsters is elegant indeed, Ian McKellen's performance-stunning. From a Dramatica perspective, however, I believe the scant objective story is a missed opportunity. Instead of providing an account (as fine as it is) of an actual and fictional characters' friendship, the big picture would have been more powerful had it been developed to a greater extent. The film could have been elevated to an important social critique of the film industry's acquiescence of the general public's negative perception (os problem) of homosexuality--and the rampant misunderstanding (os concern) that is, now as then, inherent to the subject matter.

About the Author

KE Monahan Huntley is an editor and publisher based in Southern California. As one of the original contributors to Dramatica, she helped edit and analyze many of the examples. In addition, her numerous articles provided an insightful "conversational" approach to the theory. Today she can be found at Write Between the Lines or follow her on Twitter @kemhuntley.

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