When I first read The Monk, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know about its lurid reputation or that it was savaged by the critics of its day for supposed profanity and obscenity. All I knew, when I picked it up at the library was that it was a Gothic Romance under Horror. I was completely shocked and dismayed by the time I finished. It left me in awe for days.
In 1796 a twenty year old member of parliament name Matthew Gregory Lewis, wrote a Gothic Romance masterpiece in the space of 10 weeks, unheard of even now. The Monk is a hauntingly powerful exploration of sexual desires and the abuse of power. This classic story was both praised and reviled by critics.
The Monk recounts the diabolical decline of Ambrosio, a Capuchin superior, who succumbs first to the temptations offered by a young girl who has entered his monastery disguised as a boy, and continues his descent with increasingly depraved acts of sorcery, murder, incest and torture. It gives a controversial viewpoint of the church with it’s, then considered erotic passages, were seen as sensationalism. The charismatic Monk’s downfall into sexual deviancy would elicit amusement by today’s standards, yet the themes of violence and erotic impulses, with the abuse of power within the church, still resonates with readers today.
Which is why I heard that Hollywood have decided to make a movie about this story. And why not, it has all the making of a blockbuster. There are all sorts of hypocritical, debauchery, and lustful euphemism-filled scenes that will meet the approval of horror and erotic drama fans. They can play with the two romantic subplots which could bring in the Romanic crowd. Swashbuckling heroes, damsels in distress and deceit could appease the action crowd. If done right, all three interwoven stories could end up intertwining in unexpected ways within the movie.
But like most novels that, turned into movies, The Monk will not be the daunted story I read. I fear that Hollywood’s magic touch will only tarnish the shine on this classic story. O Father Ambrosio, why did you make another deal with that She-Devil?