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Poor Things: Is The Emma Stone-Starring Frankenstein Film Based On A Book?

Yorgos Lanthimos has made a career out of upending narrative expectations and using everything at his disposal to wreak organized havoc on the screen. Still, while films like "Dogtooth" and "The Killing of a Scared Deer" are certainly disturbing in their own right, the director seems to be going further into uncanny horror territory with his latest offering, "Poor Things."

The film stars Emma Stone as a Frankenstein's-monster-like creature called Bella and Willem Dafoe as the mad doctor Baxter who brings her back to life. "Poor Things" looks to be packed with Lanthimos' trademark dark comic sensibilities, as Bella's lack of bodily synchronicity and impulsive nature makes her much sillier than one might expect.

Though the director has written or co-written several of his other films as original screenplays, "Poor Things" is actually an adaptation of the book of the same name by Alasdair Gray. Furthermore, Tony McNamara, who co-wrote the screenplay for Lanthimos' Oscar-nominated film "The Favourite," also penned the screenplay adaptation of "Poor Things."

Poor Things by Alasdair Gray was published in the early 1990s

The "Poor Things" novel was originally published back in 1992 and seems to follow the plot of the film pretty closely, based on what we've seen in the trailer. It focuses on a woman who is brought back to life but given the brain of a fetus, meaning she operates very much like a child despite being in a grown woman's body.

While the classic Bride of Frankenstein trope sees a female character like this brought back to become a lover for another monster, in "Poor Things," Bella is actually created to be the daughter-like companion of a living man, Dr. Baxter. However, she soon begins following her own impulses wherever they may lead, sending her on a lurid, darkly amusing journey through Victorian-era Europe.

With this in mind, fans of Yorgos Lanthimos who want to get the big picture before the film comes out can dig into the novel before watching the director's adaptation of "Poor Things." For those who want to let the macabre mystery of the story unfold for the first time, though, the film is set to release on September 28th, 2023.