Still, “birth/rebirth” is in no way an adaptation of the novel. I haven’t seen a faithful adaptation of the novel yet. With a male doctor, the horror of creation is about abandoning your creation. To me, it’s funny that when women do it, they have to raise it together. [laughs] They don’t get to abandon their creation. They have a secret, a shared experience no one else can understand. It’s like being at war together. No one can be as close to them as they can be to each other.
In an 1831 introduction to Frankenstein, Shelley described the vision that inspired it as that of a “hideous phantasm of a man stretched out,” stirring with an “uneasy, half-vital motion.” Tell me about depicting that “half-vital motion” in this film, that liminal state between life and death.
I didn’t want to depict birth as necessarily monstrous because there’s so much more to it than that. As someone who has been pregnant and has not given birth, I can say it’s a very strange feeling to have something dependent on you, growing inside you, essentially a parasite that will come to fruition and become something completely intact outside of your body. It’s a wild idea.
My friends who’ve recently been pregnant and experienced childbirth talk about that terrifying element as part of the process that many people feel but don’t often express. It’s pretty taboo to express. There’s a fetal component to our movie, a question of, “When does life begin, and when does life end? Can we control or define either? When is someone themselves and not themselves?” There’s in-betweenness to Lila, which I had specific feelings about but wanted to leave open enough in the film for audiences to draw conclusions.
Rose uses her body as a tool to carry out experiments. There’s such societal pressure imposed upon women and people assigned female at birth to reproduce, but that kind of creation doesn’t appeal to Rose.
She doesn’t want to create something with her body. She wants to create something with her mind. She doesn’t want to be limited by the boxes that society tries to place around her. Kraang from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comes to mind. Rose wishes that she were a brain in a vending machine. She maintains her body because it is the instrument her mind needs to get its work done, but she has no relationship with her body and is very uncomfortable with its processes.