Follow TV Tropes


Film / Gods and Monsters

Go To

Gods and Monsters is a 1998 film written and directed by Bill Condon which offers a semi-fictionalized account of James Whale (a film director of the 1930s and '40s, best known for such Universal Horror classics as Frankenstein and The Invisible Man) in the final days of his life. It was adapted from Christopher Bram's 1995 novel Father of Frankenstein.

Having recently suffered a stroke, Whale (Ian McKellen) is slowly losing his mind; unable to concentrate and often lost in his dark and hedonistic past. Out of boredom he starts sketching his gardener (Brendan Fraser), while he is also enjoying the *ahem* view. See, James Whale was gay, openly so, and a large portion of the film focuses on what it was like to be a gay man at the turn of the 20th century.

It received a large amount of praise and won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (and was nominated for two others). No relation to fantasy literature series Gods and Monsters.

This film provides examples of:

  • All Gays are Promiscuous: Whale is depicted as this, having pool parties filled with young men, and it's heavily implied that such an event caused his stroke in the first place. He is also all over Boone, but that's more of a long-term ploy than this trope...maybe.
  • Blatant Lies: When Whale tells Boone that he only wants to sketch his head. Before long he's persuaded Boone to take off his shirt.
    Boone: It's just my head you want to draw? I mean, nothing else?
    James Whale: I have no interest in your body, Mr. Boone.
  • Camp Gay: Mr. Kay, the young student who comes to interview Whale.
  • Creator Backlash: An in-universe example, as Whale is fed up with only being remembered as the man who brought the world Frankenstein.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Mostly averted, when Whale sexually assaults Boone it is treated very seriously. It still leads to Easily Forgiven, though, when it becomes clear Whale was attempting suicide.
  • Driven to Suicide: Whale at the end of the film; that, at least, happened in real life too.
  • Flash Back Stares: A rare example of this trope being played straight in a modern work, as it shows Whale succumbing to his past as it overwhelms his senses.
  • Gaydar: Boone doesn’t fully realize Whale is gay until he’s told, first by his friends and later by Hanna.
  • Gayngst: Completely averted, which is surprising for a period piece set in the 1950s.
  • Lover and Beloved: Whale's attraction to the much-younger Boone has shades of this trope.
  • Mercy Kill: Whale attempts to get Boone to do this.
  • Old People are Nonsexual: James Whale is an elderly, promiscuous gay man, and his gardener whom he's sexually provoked says Whale is too old to think about things like sex.
  • Old Retainer: Hanna, Whale's maid, who has served him for many years and is very loyal to him (although she's convinced he'll go to hell for being a homosexual).
  • Phony Veteran: Boone.
  • Sanity Slippage: Whale: "I'm losing my mind. Every day, another piece goes. Soon there will be nothing left."
  • Shout-Out: Clayton has a flat-top haircut. His silhouette looks just like the classic Frankenstein's Monster, which Whale designed.
  • Strip Poker: Whale asks Mr. Kay to remove one piece of clothing for every question related to Frankenstein that he answers. The game goes on until Kay is in his underwear.
  • Subordinate Excuse: Hanna seems to have some romantic feelings for Whale, even though she knows about his sexual orientation. In the end after he commits suicide, she kisses him in the lips.
  • Suicide by Cop: At the end, Whale admits to sexually provoking Boone because he wanted Boone to murder him, saying it would "make death bearable".
  • Tragic Dropout: Whale recounts his parents forcing him from school, at the age of 14, to work in a factory.