Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"...For now I know what it feels like to be God."

The first of the two films for this week is Frankenstein, directed by James Whale in 1931. 
This classic horror film has what I believe to be underlining themes that are seen in the Horror genre. The main character Dr. Frankenstein is considered to be a lunatic and on the verge of insanity; for anyone who creates such a "monster" must be insane. It has an uncontrollable God-complex and wants to breathe life into such things that no longer have life in them. At one point, when the monster comes to life, Frankenstein states to everyone in the room that he "knows what it feels like to be God". He gives up everything to further persue this experiment, that everyone knows no one should continue. Only trouble can come from trying to awake the dead, for example: vampires. 

From what I can tell, to have a good horror film you have to have some kind of crazy monster. Now the "monster" of the film doesn't have to be some kind of creature from the black lagoon but Frankenstein has one of those types. The Monster, as called in the film, is constructed together by other dead people and a brain from a criminal. If that doesn't just scream out "insane killer", then I don't know what does. Obviously Dr. Frankenstein didn't transfer and vocal cords because, The Monster can't say a single word. It adds suspense and tension when the antagonist of the film never says a single word, it's hard to get a read on what they are thinking in their mind. Boris did a great job of adding that suspense. It was hard to read whether he was really wanting to kill people or just trying to reach out despite the brain he had. Maybe his brain and his heart came from two different people. :) 

Also to make a good horror film, the way you film is important. It either needs to be extra gritty and dirty or extremely dark. Either way it has to be extreme, for the characters themselves are extreme. This film uses the dark extreme aspect. Every place the film takes you is lighted very poorly and abstract. The lab that Frankenstein uses is twisted like his own mind. The whole place is made of brick that spirals around and around, making anyone watching it uneasy. The whole place is as mad as the Doc. 

I also saw throughout Frankenstein the classic film "M". When The Monster meets with Maria everything in that scene yelled out at me. Though we see the antagonist in this film, The Monster walks up to Maria just like how M walked up the little girl. In "M", M gave the little girl a balloon while in Frankenstein was given a flower by Maria. Two arbitrary objects given by/to characters that are represented in other films too. 

I will give this film a 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed watching it very much and excited about the other films ill be watching.

Next film: Nosferatu....


  1. Great post.... The Jasons, chain saw wielding monsters, etc... of present day all remind me of this original "monster" film. Great classic movie!!!!

  2. This film SHOULD remind you of M! Whale and other horror filmmakers in the U.S. basically took all they could from the German Expressionist filmmakers...as you will see when you watch Nosferatu. The lighting, the sets, the make-up, the acting...it should all remind you of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which we saw in class that week. Of course, Frankenstein had been put on film before this (Edison even made a version), but Whale uses those German influences beautifully. I think I even showed a clip of Frankenstein during our Hollywood week to talk about genre and how the German style moved to Hollywood (in horror and film noir). Did you see a version of Whale's Frankenstein where the monster actually drops the little girl? In the original released version, they had to cut any shot of the monster holding the girl over the water because it was too terrible. All viewers saw was the two of them sitting by the water and then her flower in the water. Very M!

  3. Yes! Some how I didnt even think about the Cabinet! I should have seen it!

    I saw the version where he actually drops the little girl! I would have freaked out over M if I had not seen her get dropped!! :)