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Elle Fanning to Star in a Biopic About Mary Shelley, Teenaged Science Fiction Pioneer

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that science fiction books are just for boys, and that teen girls don’t understand them. After all, the genre was invented by an incredible teen girl named Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus at age 19 back in 1818. She published the book anonymously at first, but when she published the second edition in 1822, she put her name on the novel and took deserved credit for the iconic and haunting story from then on.

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Since this is a story about a teenaged girl, it makes sense that a teenager would be cast in the lead role. In this case, it’s Elle Fanning, who is 18 and therefore almost the perfect age to be playing the author. In the very first glimpse at the movie above, we can see Fanning as Shelley, leaning against her mother’s grave with a notebook on her lap, writing utensil at the ready. I have no idea if Shelley actually wrote stories while chilling out in a graveyard, but based on the results, it certainly seems fitting that she’d be spending quite a bit of time there.

According to /Film‘s report, the movie revolves around Shelley’s late teens and her marriage to Percy Shelley. Their lives sound very dramatic to me; there’s suicide (Percy’s first wife killed herself), secret pregnancies, and all sorts of drama with Percy’s aristocratic family and his own radical views. It’ll make for an excellent movie, I’m sure, and of course the plot will be showing us how that drama played a backdrop to Shelley writing her horror story.

Not only is this movie about a fascinating subject, it also has a female director in Haifaa al-Mansour, who is also Saudi Arabia’s first female director. Her feature film, Wadjda, is a documentary that was very well-received when it came out in 2012; it’ll be cool to see her work on a biopic next.

Haifaa al-Mansour also has the first credit for writing the script, as well, with Emma Jensen and Conor McPherson listed second. Usually, movies about women don’t have both a female director and a female screenwriters; very often one or the other of those roles will be filled by a man. It’s refreshing to see that this movie will be going in a different direction by focusing on a female perspective.

(via /Film, featured image via Michael Sauers/Flickr)

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Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (

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