Frankenstein (1931) Oct 27, 2013 20:42:07 GMT -5 via mobile
Post by StevePulaski on Oct 27, 2013 20:42:07 GMT -5
Directed by: James Whale
Directed by: James Whale
A haunting but heartwarming scene in Frankenstein involving a young girl.
One look at Frankenstein's face, complete with his dead eyes, hideous skin, and bolts protruding on opposite signs of his head and you have seen the very personification of horror. After the release of Dracula sparked critical and audience acclaim, Universal had to act fast to assure even longer viability in the slumping U.S. economy. Their knee-jerk reaction to the success of the aforementioned feature led to the creation of James Whale's Frankenstein, a tremendous horror film that functions more like a carefully-pieced together, highly detailed drama that does the impossible - humanize a monster.
The film stars Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein, a young scientist who works with his hunchback assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) to create a man out the parts of that have been collected over time. Frankenstein's ultimate goal is to create a human and give him a sustainable life using a variety of electrical devices.
And thus, he creates a revolting monster, who is portrayed by the almighty and iconic Boris Karloff (credited as "?" in the opening titles). Karloff, whose entire character relies on grunts, groans, and laborious movement, has the biggest challenge in the film and that's to make his greatly limited monster interesting with very little character traits.
It is when we, the audience, realize that the monster Dr. Frankenstein has created may indeed have some humanity buried inside of him. Consider the scene when he bonds with a little girl due to her fascination that she can take small flowers and make their buds/pedals float in a body of water (she refers to the discovery as "boats"). Karloff infuses the lumbering monster with recognizable human traits such as tenderness and empathy, showing a soul exists beneath the rigid exterior.
Such a film needs a strong leading man (or monster in this case) in addition to direction that caters to the film in a way that adds rather than basks in ordinariness. Seeing that Whale's scenes are never without significant detail and never conducted ridiculously, the latter trait is met. In addition, Karloff's memorable performance works on a terrific level adding to the film's tonal eeriness.
The 1931 adaption of Frankenstein undoubtedly deserves its place among the classic monster films as it's hard to get more iconic than the Mary Shelley character. Its material may be compelling, but its message that humans should never attempt to play or act as God is one of the strongest takeaway points in any monster films I've ever seen.
Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, and Dwight Frye. Directed by: James Whale.