Great Gothics

A fascinating article on NPR about why we (definitely I) love the gothic genre.

“Though their definition is fluid, Gothic novels (and movies) generally offer equal parts delighted horror and breathless sentiment. And regardless of plot twists or historical pastiches, they’re preoccupied with contemporary problems; the essential horror of the irreconcilable world. For early Gothics, this meant the Industrial Revolution, eulogizing the natural in the face of modernity (Anne Radcliffe’s 1794 The Mysteries of Udolpho equated love of nature with virtue until it was practically a superpower). Udolpho — and countless other crumbling castles — reflected both worry and rebellious glee about the fate of traditional social structures in the modern order; estates declined alongside their nefarious masters.”

Penny DreadfulI love gothic – books, TV series.. I love the melodrama and ugly beauty of it all. Three things I’ve enjoyed in recent years:

  • The Shadow of the Wind series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The second book in particular, Angel’s Game – is delightfully OTT.
  • Penny Dreadful – Sky Atlantic’s original series is eminently watchable for the hypnotic Eva Green who really….commits to her part. But I also love how it references and remixes all the classic tales: Frankenstein, Dorian Gray.. all the characters are in there. It’s atmospheric and sometimes ridiculous, but then that’s part of the fun. Another of my favourite actresses, Helen McRory was wisely retained for the second series as the main villain after making a few great cameos in the first series.
  • I want to add Sherlock Holmes – the new books by Anthony Horowitz – or Ripper Street, the excellent TV series that went from BBC to Amazon and is now back on BBC2 again. They’re not quite full-on gothic, though. But maybe half and half makes a whole? Highly recommend Ripper Street at any rate, especially the first series.
  • Not sure if I’m creating a new genre here but The House that Will Not Stand, by Marcus Gardley at the Tricycle Theatre, was a thrilling play set in the American South, during slavery, focusing on a family of Creole women who are reeling from the death of their (illegitimate) white patriarch, and a diverse community coming to terms with laws on slavery and freedom. It was haunting and lyrical, rhythmic and a little creepy. I am going to file that under gothic too.

 

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3 thoughts on “Great Gothics

  1. Shane Thomas says:

    Loved Helen McCrory in S2 of ‘Penny Dreadful’. It won’t get award recognition, but it should. One of the best villains I’ve seen on TV in years.

    • kirimk8 says:

      Agreed. Did you ever watch Peaky Blinders? It was really good I thought, and McCrory tore up the scenery there as well.

      • Shane Thomas says:

        Got midway through S1, and it never grabbed me. The episodes disappeared off iPlayer before I could finish the series. An odd one, as it looked like you couldn’t miss with that cast: McCrory, Cillian Murphy, Sophie Rundle and Tom Hardy showing up in S2.

        If there’s any justice, McCrory will have a starmaking Bafta role in her future. She’s a perfect fit for a character like Glenn Close in Damages, Julianna Margulies in the Good Wife, or Robin Wright in House of Cards.

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