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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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After reading the book Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and then seeing several adaptations done for the silver screen, there are changes that the films make to the book. The most evident change that jumps out at me is the portrayal of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The common missing element in all of the film versions of the classic novel is the way they treat the character of Victor. The films all tend to downplay what a "monster" Victor is and instead stress how much of a monster the Creature is. The films seem to stress less on the responsibility and guilt that Victor feels over his creation, which is shown in the book. Instead of taking the stance on "a crime against nature" for trying to play God, the films spin the film as "a science experiment gone wrong".

When reading the book Frankenstein, and looking at the character of Victor, one can not help but see his character flaws. Dr. Frankenstein is portrayed as selfish, ego manic bent on restoring life to his stitched together creature, and doesn't stop to think of the consequences. Though not till later in the book, as Victor and Elizabeth are to be wed, his true selfish nature emerges once again. Victor believes that the Creature is coming to seek revenge on him, not for a moment thinking about the well being of his bride to be, Elizabeth (144). In the novel it is all about Victor and his selfishness, where as in the film versions, it looks as though Victor is trying to protect Elizabeth. Whether it had been a noise outside or a quick motion of a shadow, in the films its looks as if Victor is trying to protect Elizabeth.

A place in the book where it couldn't be more evident of his guilt and shame of his creature is after it rises up, the birth of the Creature (35). Instead of feeding off this power scene and theme from the book, the directors of the films missed this opportunity. In the 1994 film Frankenstein, directed by Kenneth Branagh, Branagh changes this scene in the movie by having Victor believe he has accidentally killed the creature, and that all his guilt is believed to be gone. By changing this scene, Kenneth Branagh failed to capture the sense of out casting and lack of feelings Victor shows toward the Creature as he did in the book.

The biggest change in the novel to film adaptations is undisputedly the Creature. Obviously for time constraints, the time in the movie had to be speed up. In the, novel it takes the Creature a long time to learn how to speak and read. On a more in depth scale, the Creature in the films was portrayed a "killing machine", killing random people that were not connected with Victor's life. James Whales does this in the famous scene of the little girl being thrown into the river in the 1931 film. Whales takes away the intelligence that the Creature posses in the novel, in my opinion, which makes him scarier than just this "mindless killer". The Creature systematically targets people close to Victor Frankenstein in the novel where as in the movie he kills people who are not connected to Dr. Frankenstein. The complex and depth character was stripped from the movies and replaced with a popcorn movie monster. The theme of loneliness and abandonment toward the Creature that was in the novel was pushed aside. Instead the films choose to take sympathy on Victor for being "terrorized" by the Creature.

The Creature as no one to connect with, no constant human interaction in his life, which is the opposite of what Victor, has later in the novel. Just as when Victor was alone and working on the Creature, he could do nothing but focus on that one thing. He didn't want to talk to anyone; all he wanted to do was concentrate on his work. Very similarly the Creature lived alone and had but one thing on his mind, to get revenge with his father, Dr. Frankenstein. In this way the two share a connection; however Victor could walk outside and be accepted by society, where the Creature had to live in the shadows because he was different. The films, overall, didn't show the true depth of horror that Mary Shelley originally showed in her novel. I think that the director's didn't capture the depth and true themes of the novel.





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