Loading the player ...

A Shape of Error

USA | 2012 | 73 minutes | Abigail Child

Shot with a 16mm camera and cast without professional actors, this intimate portrayal is an imaginary home movie about nineteenth-century poet Percy Shelley and his wife, the novelist and author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley.

May 19, 2013
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival  
8:30 PM Date has passed
May 22, 2013
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival  
8:30 PM Date has passed
Show All

When an experimental filmmaker leaps into narrative features, the result is always interesting but not always as good as Abigail Child's A Shape of Error. Subtitled "Fragments from the Life of Mary Shelley" and based on the life and diaries of Mary Shelley and her stepsister Claire, the movie focuses on the time when she first met her future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley up through her writing Frankenstein. When you look at the details of her life, you would think it was from 25 years ago, not 200. The daughter of progressive intellectuals, she fell for Percy when she was 16 and he was 22 and married. Even more shocking than her running off with him were their bohemian ideals of free love and feminism. Shot like a home movie, this impressionistic view of Mary Shelley's life incorporates split screen footage, reenactments, and lots of narrated bits from her writing and diaries. Taken together, there's an immediacy to the storytelling that is visually and emotionally compelling. According to Child, "The Shelleys were brave and complicated, restless and obsessed, egocentric and at certain points, simply cruel. Their story and its connections to now, to our nation's own mixed and hypocritical dealings with sexuality and art, its rejection of the working class in favor of the upper percentile of the wealthy, are resonant themes."

Director Biography
Abigail Child has been at the forefront of experimental writing and media since the 1980s, having completed six books and more than thirty film and video works and installations. An acknowledged pioneer in montage, Child’s early film work addressed the interplay between sound and image in the context of reshaping narrative tropes in a manner that prefigured many contemporary and future media concerns.

Packaged Films


Multiple split screens show two tourists traveling alone…together.
Director: Abigail Child
Principal Cast: Eileen Ryan, Nick Wilding, Aurelia d'Antonio, Richard Wittman
Country: USA
Year: 2012
Running Time: 73 minutes
Producer: Abigail Child
Screenplay: Abigail Child
Cinematographers: Abigail Child
Editors: Abigail Child, Yael Bitton, Mary Patierno
Music: Zeena Parkins
Website: Film Website
Filmography: Debut Feature FIlm
Language: English
Format: HDCAM
Show All