Monday, 15 October 2012

Frankenstein : Two Centuries Of Terror

Mary Shelly
Published in 1818, Frankenstein can be considered to be a milestone in the history of English Literature. Written by Mary Shelly, who started writing it when she was just 18 and published at the age of 21, makes it a matter of huge astonishment.

An early step in science fiction, the book made its mark, making people realize the terrors in the way of pursuing the unknown.

The story starts with Thomas Walton, a sailer who has taken a dangerous voyage to the North Pole. Walton comes across two beings, a huge giant like creature who passes from a distance and later a weak man. Walton saves the man, Victor Frankenstein. The two of them bond really well since they both share a passion of pursuing the unknown. But Frankenstein is very skeptical about this passion, he tells his tale to Walton in order to make him aware of the dangers of wandering out in the unknown.

Victor Frankenstein, born in Geneva, has been extraordinarily genius and very curious from his birth. He is fascinated by the works of ancient philosophers and alchemists. When he goes to the university, some people mock him for having wasted time in that 'useless' knowledge and urge him to sing praises of modern sciences. Still Victor holds his stand and starts to work on his dream project of creating 'life'. Victor works for days and nights, he works like a madman. Leaving no stone unturned, not caring about his health, forgetting everything else except his goal, Victor Frankenstein finally succeeds. He creates a  creature, a living organism. But his happiness is short lived. It turns out to be a disaster. Victor falls ill and takes months to recuperate. The creature runs out from Victor's room at its birth.

After many months Victor is finally cured and he returns home when a bad news grips him - his kid brother has been murdered brutally. On returning he sees his 'creation' appearing before him to show him - that its responsible.

The confrontation of the creature or Frankenstein's monster with Frankenstein is the most interesting part, where the monster tells him how he survived after running away on his night of birth/creation. How did he learn to speak & read and many other things. The monster asks Frankenstein to create a female companion for him because he is alone in the world and no one wants to come near him. He assures Victor Frankenstein that he won't cause any more trouble if he would be given a companion. Victor earlier agrees but later starts having second thoughts on again creating another monster. Thus Frankenstein's monster vows a revenge and a bloody feud begins.

There have many movie adaptations of this great novel. Although not many of them are completely based on the novel, they drew many inspirations and took many cinematic liberties. Here I would like to mention about two such movies.

Frankenstein (1931) is a movie, which is much different then the novel. But it has the same core idea. In this movie even the first names of the lead character in the novel (Victor) has been interchanged with his friend (Henry).
It shapes the story into a simple linear narrative eliminating many inter-stories and characters from the novel.
The role of Frankenstein's monster was played by Boris Karloff, who went on to reprise this role for two sequels later - Bride OF Frankenstein (1935) and Son Of Frankenstein (1939).
The movie took many cinematic liberties to adapt the story into the screen in a time when attempting to make such a movie was very difficult. But still it was fruitful and the audiences then and even now experience the same wonder watching it.

Another movie, Frankenstein (also known as Mary Shelly's Frankenstein) released in 1994 is worth a watch. It was directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also played the lead character - Victor Frankenstein. The role of Frankenstein's monster was played by Robert De Niro.
Proper justice was done to the sets and settings, wardrobe, etc to make the flow of the story smooth and understandable.
The film stuck to the novel in many ways but it took some liberties to make the story more interesting and appealing. It followed the structure of the novel and had almost all the characters and settings except for a few eliminations.
Although the critical reviews were mixed, Robert De Niro's portrayal of Frankenstein's monster was appreciated.


  1. I think I read this one, though it was the comic version. Loved the way you presented it though. :D

    P.S. This blog isn't of a movie-buff, it's of a movie-obsessed maniac! Good going! :D

    1. Haha, thanks. I think I'll take that as a compliment. ;)

  2. Good one..Found it very interesting to read..