Gods and Monsters
Gods and Monsters poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBill Condon
Screenplay byBill Condon
Based onFather of Frankenstein
by Christopher Bram
Produced by
CinematographyStephen M. Katz
Edited byVirginia Katz
Music byCarter Burwell
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 21 January 1998 (1998-01-21) (Sundance)
  • 4 November 1998 (1998-11-04) (United States)
  • 26 March 1999 (1999-03-26) (United Kingdom)
Running time
105 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$10 million[2]
Box office$6.5 million[2]

Gods and Monsters is a 1998 period drama film that recounts the partly fictionalized last days of the life of film director James Whale, whose experience of war in World War I is a central theme. The film stars Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich, and David Dukes. An international co-production between the United Kingdom and the United States, the film is written and directed by Bill Condon, based on Christopher Bram's 1995 novel Father of Frankenstein. The film is produced by Paul Colichman, Gregg Fienberg, and Mark R. Harris; Clive Barker served as executive producer.[3][4] Despite positive reviews, the film was a box office failure.

Gods and Monsters was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for McKellen and Best Supporting Actress for Redgrave, and won for Best Adapted Screenplay.[5] The film features reconstructions of the production of the 1935 film Bride of Frankenstein, which Whale directed. The title Gods and Monsters is derived from a scene in Bride of Frankenstein, in which the character Dr. Pretorius toasts Dr. Frankenstein, "To a new world of gods and monsters!" The story has also been adapted as a play of the same name which premiered in London at the Southwark Playhouse in February 2015.


In the 1950s, James Whale, the director of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, has retired. Whale lives with his long-time housemaid, Hanna, who loyally cares for him but disapproves of his homosexuality. He has suffered a series of strokes that have left him fragile and tormented by memories: growing up as a poor outcast, his tragic World War I service, and the filming of Bride of Frankenstein. Whale slips into his past and indulges in his fantasies, reminiscing about gay pool parties and sexually teasing an embarrassed, starstruck fan. He battles depression, and at times contemplates suicide, as he realizes his life, his attractiveness, and his health are slipping away.

Whale befriends his young, handsome gardener, Clayton Boone, and the two begin a sometimes uneasy friendship as Boone poses for Whale's sketches. The two men bond while discussing their lives and dealing with Whale's spells of disorientation and weakness from the strokes. Boone, impressed with Whale's fame, watches Bride of Frankenstein on television as his friends mock the movie, his friendship with Whale, and Whale's intentions.

Boone assures Whale that he is straight and receives Whale's assurance that there is no sexual interest, but Boone storms out when Whale graphically discusses his sexual history. Boone later returns with the agreement that no such "locker room" discussions occur again. Boone is invited to escort Whale to a party hosted by George Cukor for Princess Margaret. There, a photo op has been arranged for Whale with "his Monsters": Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester from "ancient" movie fame. This event exacerbates Whale's depression. A sudden rainstorm becomes an excuse to leave.

Back at Whale's home, Clayton needs a dry change of clothes. Whale can only find a sweater, so Clayton wears a towel wrapped around his waist. Whale decides to try to sketch Clayton one more time. After some minutes, he shows his sketches to Clayton, disclosing that he has lost his ability to draw. After Clayton drops his towel to pose nude, Whale makes him wear a World War I gas mask and then uses the opportunity to make a sexual advance on Clayton, kissing his shoulder and neck, and forcefully reaches for his genitals. An enraged Clayton fights off Whale, who confesses that this had been his plan and begs Clayton to kill him to relieve him of his suffering. Clayton refuses, puts Whale to bed, then sleeps downstairs. The next morning, Hanna is alarmed when she cannot find Whale, prompting a search by Clayton and Hanna. Clayton finds Whale floating dead in the pool as a distraught Hanna runs out, clutching a suicide note. Clayton and Hanna agree that he should disappear from the scene to avoid a scandal.

A decade later, Clayton and his son, Michael, watch Bride of Frankenstein on television. Michael is skeptical of his father's claim that he knew Whale, but Clayton produces a sketch of the Frankenstein monster drawn by Whale, and signed, "To Clayton. Friend?". Clayton later walks down a street at night in the rain, miming the movements of Frankenstein's monster.



Gods and Monsters received positive reviews from critics, with McKellen's, Fraser's and Redgrave's performances singled out for particular praise. Time Out called it "not a complicated film, but warm and clever".[6]

The film has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 67 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The site's critical consensus states: "Gods and Monsters is a spellbinding, confusing piece of semi-fiction, featuring fine performances; McKellen leads the way, but Redgrave and Fraser don't lag far behind."[7] On Metacritic the film has a score of 74 out of 100, based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[8]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards[5] Best Actor Ian McKellen Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Lynn Redgrave Nominated
Best Screenplay – Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Bill Condon Won
Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role Ian McKellen Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Bill Condon Nominated
Bram Stoker Awards[9] Best Screenplay Won[a]
British Academy Film Awards[10] Best Actress in a Supporting Role Lynn Redgrave Nominated
British Independent Film Awards Best British Film Nominated
Best Director Bill Condon Nominated
Best Actor Ian McKellen Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards[11] Best Actor Won
Chicago International Film Festival Best Feature (Audience Choice Award) Bill Condon Won
Chlotrudis Awards Best Movie Won
Best Director Bill Condon Nominated
Best Actor Ian McKellen Won
Best Supporting Actor Brendan Fraser Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Lynn Redgrave Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards[12] Best Picture Nominated
Best Actor Ian McKellen (also for Apt Pupil) Won
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Nominated
Deauville American Film Festival Grand Prix Bill Condon Nominated
International Critics' Award Won
Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards Best Foreign Film Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards[13] Best Actor Ian McKellen (also for Apt Pupil) Won
Ghent International Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize Bill Condon Won
Audience Award Won
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Film – Wide Release Won
Golden Globe Awards[14] Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Ian McKellen Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Lynn Redgrave Won
Independent Spirit Awards[15] Best Feature Won
Best Male Lead Ian McKellen Won
Best Supporting Female Lynn Redgrave Won
Best Screenplay Bill Condon Nominated
International Horror Guild Awards Best Movie Won
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards[16] Best Actor Ian McKellen Won
London Film Critics Circle Awards British Supporting Actress of the Year Lynn Redgrave Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards[17] Best Actor Ian McKellen Won
Best Music Score Carter Burwell Runner-up
National Board of Review Awards[18] Best Film Won
Top Ten Films 5th Place
Best Actor Ian McKellen Won
National Society of Film Critics Awards[19] Best Actor 2nd Place
New York Film Critics Circle Awards[20] Best Actor Runner-up
Online Film & Television Association Awards[21] Best Actor Won
Best Drama Actor Won
Best Drama Actress Lynn Redgrave Nominated
Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium Bill Condon Nominated
Best Drama Ensemble Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards[22] Best Actor Ian McKellen Won
Producers Guild of America Awards[23] Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures Paul Colichman, Gregg Fienberg and Mark R. Harris Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Film Won
Best Actor Ian McKellen Won
San Sebastián International Film Festival Golden Shell Bill Condon Nominated
Special Jury Prize Won[b]
Best Actor Ian McKellen Won
Satellite Awards[24] Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Ian McKellen Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Drama Lynn Redgrave Nominated
Best Screenplay – Adapted Bill Condon Won
Saturn Awards[25] The President's Memorial Award Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards[26] Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Ian McKellen Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Lynn Redgrave Nominated
Seattle International Film Festival Best Director Bill Condon Won
SESC Film Festival Best Foreign Actor (Critics Award) Ian McKellen Won
Best Foreign Actor (Audience Award) Won
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards[27] Best Actor Runner-up
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards[28] Best Actor Won
USC Scripter Awards[29] Bill Condon (screenwriter); Christopher Bram (author) Nominated
Voices in the Shadow Dubbing Festival Best Male Voice Sergio Graziani (for the dubbing of Ian McKellen) Won
Writers Guild of America Awards[30] Best Screenplay – Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Bill Condon Nominated

Real life basis

James Whale had several men (and women) pose nude for him, and some of these are shown in the making-of featurette. Several of his paintings were bought by a collector and loaned to the studio for the making of this film.

Whale suffered from strokes towards the end of his life, which affected his mental abilities, and he was found dead in his pool.[31] There were rumours that this was a homicide, but the evidence only pointed at suicide.[32]

In the documentary included on the DVD and in interviews, novelist Christopher Bram explains that the character of Clayton Boone is completely fictitious.[33]


  1. ^ Tied with Alex Proyas for Dark City.
  2. ^ Tied with Where the Heart Is.


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  4. ^ Kaufman, Anthony (November 11, 1998). "From Candyman to Frankenstein, Bill Condon Talks "Gods and Monsters"". IndieWire. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "The 71st Academy Awards (1999) Nominees and Winners". Oscars.org. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  6. ^ "Gods and Monsters". Time Out. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011.
  7. ^ Gods and Monsters at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. ^ Gods and Monsters at Metacritic Edit this at Wikidata
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  13. ^ "1998 FFCC AWARD WINNERS". Florida Film Critics Circle. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  14. ^ "Gods and Monsters – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  15. ^ "36 Years of Nominees and Winners" (PDF). Independent Spirit Awards. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
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  22. ^ "1998 Awards (2nd Annual)". Online Film Critics Society. 3 January 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
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  24. ^ "International Press Academy website – 1999 3rd Annual SATELLITE Awards". Archived from the original on 1 February 2008.
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