Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Frankenstein; horror, USA, 1931; D: James Whale, S: Colin Clive, Boris Karloff, Mae Clarke

Scientist Henry Frankenstein and his hunchback assistant Fritz dig up graves and steal corpses, because he plans to relive dead tissue. One stormy night, Frankenstein starts with the experiment in his castle, when he is visited by his fiance Elizabeth and her friends. A lightning bolt strikes the corpse on the table, and it comes to life. Unfortunately, Frankenstein's monster has a brain of a killer, and thus escapes and drowns a little girl in a lake. Angered by this, the villagers chase the monster with torches. Surrounded in a mill, the monster throws Frankenstein out from the window, while the villagers burn it by setting fire outside.

Even though it was not the first film adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein" - Dawley made one 20 years earlier with the eponymous film - James Whale's version from 1931 came with such a grand style and shock that it became one of the most influential horror films of the 20th Century, featuring several scenes which became iconic, as well as Boris Karloff's unforgettable performance which set the norm of the look of the monster, after which every subsequent "Frankenstein" film conformed to it. Whale did not kid around, and created a truly dark, gritty and unflinching horror film with several disturbing moments (hunchback assistant Fritz tries to steal a normal brain from a laboratory for the monster, but drops and breaks the jar, after which he takes the jar which says "Abnormal brain"; Fritz whips the monster in the dungeon...), while leaning on to the tradition of German expressionism in several scenes, notably those set in the castle, mirroring some subconscious human fears and mistrust about the consequences and abuse of science, though the 'abridged' storyline could have been better developed instead of wasting too much time on the uninteresting love subplot involving Frankenstein's fiance Elizabeth. The highlights are definitely the last 20 minutes, featuring the angry mob with torches chasing Frankenstein's monster from a cliff to a mill, but all up until that point "Frankenstein" is a good film - but it lacks something, since it practically neglected Frankenstein's relation towards the monster, instead of exploring it.


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