As part of this reading challenge I decided that it would be fun to review the film adaptations of the book that we are currently going through. With Frankenstein that became a bit of a challenge. This book has been adapted more times than one could imagine in almost every way possible. Within just a few years after the book was published plays were written based on this book, and it never stopped. When the moving picture came on the scene this novel became fodder for dozens of movies as well.
Of these multiple adaptations it would be almost impossible for me to review all of them. There simply isn’t enough time in the day. In order to keep myself from going crazy I decided to review just one. I decided to review the one that is considered the greatest of them all.
In 1931 a film was released that was so shocking that viewers needed to leave the theater. It was far too intense for most people and in some states portions of it were even banned. Frankenstein suddenly became more than a work of literature. Frankenstein was now a household name.
Unfortunately the household name was not all that close to the Frankenstein that we have grown to enjoy over the past month. Much of the depth and beauty had been removed.
Boris Karloff did a fantastic job of creating a monster that would inspire film makers for generations. The work that he did is still touted today as one of the greatest monster portrayals in the history of film. This monster though never lived on Mary Shelley’s paper.
Despite the fact that I did enjoy this film I have to say that I was disappointed. I was hoping for something closer to what I had read. I was hoping to see the characters come to life on the screen before my eyes. This didn’t happen. Even the story itself was twisted to a point that very few elements remained.
One could almost say that the script of this movie was much like the monster itself. Mary Shelley’s work was cut to pieces and stuck back together in order to create new life. The new horrific life created was nothing like the original, but was powerful in its own right. This new life was so powerful that even though it was much different than the original it became even bigger than the original. People around the world began to believe that this new version was in fact the story of Frankenstein. They began to believe that the monster was a slow moving, stupid, psychotic, killing machine. Billions of people recognize this new monster, and almost no one even knows that the original was something different.
To this films credit though it is foundational to the modern horror film and for that fact alone I must tip my hat to it. This is a movie that should be viewed by all, just don’t expect it to be true to the story.