Gods and Monsters
A Queer Film Classic
Gods and Monsters, one of three inaugural titles in Arsenal's film book series Queer Film Classics, deals with the acclaimed 1998 film about openly gay film director James Whale,
best known for the Frankenstein films of the
Written and directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls), the film focuses on the final days of Whale's life in the 1950s. Moving from the slums of Britain in the early twentieth century to the new era of "talkies" in Hollywood and beyond, Gods and Monsters trains a gay eye on the historical events that helped shape Whale (played by Ian McKellen) and his films. In 1957, long after his career had peaked, he recounts his experiences to his young, straight gardener (played by Brendan Fraser), with whom he forms an uncommon bond. The resulting film was widely acclaimed, winning an Oscar for Condon's screenplay and nominations for both McKellen and co-star Lynn Redgrave.
Noah Tsika's book examines Gods and Monsters from a variety of perspectives, highlighting the complexity and significance of its achievements, including its fusion of fantasy and biography.
An intriguing biographical foundation drawn from the life of gay film director James Whale, with its narrative containing a mix of fact and fiction, this traces Whale's journey personally and professionally through his conversations with a young gardener. In addition to his analysis of the film's story and treatment, Tsika draws on other films and literature, as well as on the history of early Hollywood with regard to gay themes, in order to provide a full cultural context. -Library Journal
A blend of fascinating personal tidbits and keenly defined insights, Tsika gives the book a feel of authenticity that goes beyond intellectual honesty and reaches emotional genuineness. -EDGE Publications
With wit, erudition, and a palpable emotional investment, Tsika carefully explains what is significant, challenging, and interesting about Bill Condon's 1998 film . .. Gods and Monsters is an accessible and appealing film, but Tsika shows you what a great film it is, too, ornately stylized and thematically rich. -Cineaste