The Invisible Man (1933) Oct 29, 2013 13:00:25 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Oct 29, 2013 13:00:25 GMT -5
The Invisible Man (1933)
Directed by: James Whale
Directed by: James Whale
An elegant scene in The Invisible Man.
When cinema first began - in the late 1800's - short films and small features would often tamper with the audience's perception in order to create a certain reaction. Early footage of the time showed audience members scurrying to the aisles in a packed theater when a large steam engine was approaching towards the camera, as if it were headed straight for the audience. While it looks silly now, audiences really had no grasp as to how cinema and film "worked" and how it could be manipulated due to the medium being at the mercy of its crew.
I can see audiences having wild, over-the-top reactions to James Whale's The Invisible Man back in the day and being completely shocked by the effects and the mystique of the picture. The fact that the elements of shock and mystery old up over-seventy years later is a miraculous achievement. The film still packs frightening qualities that make horror films and thrillers click and hold up for decades to come. Even in the new-age where bigger is better and horror films can be victim to slick, sharp special effects that mirror action pictures rather than their characteristics of their own genre, how minimal effects were employed and utilized in older pictures will never cease to amaze me.
Claude Rains plays the titular character, although for most scenes he remains an invisible enigma. his performance relies largely on voice-acting and the power of having his clothes speak for his body language. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to keep a straight face - let alone act - when the main actor is supposed to be invisible and you must act like a person isn't there. Contemporary challenges in cinema would be in an action film when an actor must fight a giant behemoth who obviously doesn't exist in real life and the actor must only view a small image of it on set and toy with it as if it's the real thing.
Rains' character, Dr. Jack Griffin, is a scientist and is made invisible after a lab experiment went awry. Now, he wears a dapper outfit and a lengthy piece of cloth wrapped around his head, aided by shades and a top hat to protect his little secret. He checks into a hotel and is given service like any other patron. However, when his secret is revealed he is given anything but. Once his secret is out, the film revolves around him attempting to fool the guests at the hotel and even try to go into a partnership with one of the men in an attempt to take over the world.
The Invisible Man works because it is different from all of the Universal monster movies thus far. The film is captured with clarity but layered with mystery and understandable human intrigue as to how the premise works and how an invisible man would function in today's society. The bulk of the film's success relies largely on Rains' capability as a performer who doesn't technically show, and how his voice-acting - the sole identity he has in the film - allows him to create a character with an outlook and a plan. That and the professionalism of the effects make this one of the most enticing horror films in terms of aesthetics of the time period. At a perfectly restrained seventy-one minutes, it makes perfect for quick, breezy entertainment.
Starring: Claude Rains. Directed by: James Whale.