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Mary Shelley: The Birth of Frankenstein
Her father was philosopher William Godwin. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was feminism’s founder. By pedigree and experience, Mary Shelley was uncannily equipped to write the gothic masterpiece Frankenstein. This program offers a fresh exploration of her novel, focusing on how Shelley’s personal life influenced the book and mirrored it afterwards. Along with reenactments of scenes from her classic and dramatizations of her life, the program draws from a wealth of primary sources, including readings from her mother’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Mary Shelley’s personal letters, as well as those of her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and of Lord Byron. A BBCW Production. (60 minutes)
Frankenstein: the scientist who created life! Was the famed character conceived solely in the mind of novelist Mary Shelley, or was Frankenstein based in reality, as some argue? This episode of Ancient Mysteries explores Shelley’s possible influences. Had she learned of the 18th-century German doctor who experimented on dead as well as live bodies, or was her inspiration the Britisher Andrew Crosse, who claimed to use electricity to create life? Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (42 minutes) Distributed by A&E Television Networks.
Vampires: Is It Real?
Are vampires real or unreal, dead or alive? Let's tear open the crypt, drag them into the light of day, and find out once and for all. Meet Don Henry, a self-proclaimed vampire, who consumes human blood—but only from consenting donors. However, not all blood-suckers share the same code of ethics. We’ll learn about a young woman victimized by a vampire in Florida while hitch-hiking, who barely escapes death after a nightmarish evening of systematic blood drainage and feeding. Explore the history of this mythic killer with scholars and victims alike, tracing both superstition and unnerving personal accounts to all corners of the world. A National Geographic Production. (52 minutes) A National Geographic Production.
Monsters from the Id: Anxiety and Optimism in 1950s Science Fiction
It was the era of McCarthyism, the Korean War, and nightmares of nuclear oblivion—but, as this documentary illustrates, the 1950s also witnessed a surge of optimism and confidence in America that figured prominently in the period’s science fiction cinema. Interweaving clips from over thirty classic movies, the film describes the emergence of a distinctly 20th-century archetype, the Modern Scientist, which emboldened an uncertain nation to face new challenges head-on. Chief among these was the 1957 launch of Sputnik, a principal catalyst in the international space race and a paradigm shift in the way Americans imagined space travel. Commentary on the decade’s scientific and sociological transformation—and on America’s shortcomings in science and technology today—comes from Homer Hickam, retired NASA engineer and inspiration for the 1999 movie October Sky; Dr. Patrick Lucanio, author of Smokin’ Rockets: The Romance of Technology in Film, Radio, and Television in the 1950s; film critic and sci-fi expert Richard Scheib; and others. (52 minutes)
The Undead: Tony Robinson's Gods and Monsters
Tony Robinson encounters corpses mutilated after death, a twelfth century plague-spreading zombie, and cannibalistic king of England in his quest to discover why our ancestors were so afraid of the dead. Contains graphic images. Some content may be objectionable