“Frankenstein” was a novel written by Mary Shelley in 1818. Since then there have been many versions and adaptations in the form of films. One extremely different to the other, they show how the novel can be so widely adapted and modified to the wishes of the director. James Whale directed the first film version of “Frankenstein” in 1931 then Kenneth Branagh released “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” in 1994. Mary Shelley was born in 1771 and had a troubled life from the moment she was born.
Her mother Mary Wollstonecraft died giving birth to Shelley.
She inherited a tendency to be easily depressed from her mother, so when her stepmother who she despised brought her up she decided to runaway to Europe continually with her stepsister. She met Percy Shelley when she was sixteen (who was already married) and they went away to Geneva (also where the novel was set). They decided to all write ghost stories and Mary produced “Frankenstein”, the only story from that holiday to be published.
Many think that “Frankenstein” is based around Shelley’s life, and her heartache of her mother’s death at birth.
Throughout the essay I will write about the ways both the monster and Dr. Frankenstein are portrayed by the two different directors and how this creates atmosphere and feelings in the audience. I will also be writing about how background music, Sound effects, and camera angles contribute to the separate films. Then I will go on to look at not only the costumes of the characters but the settings of the both films too.
In Whale’s 1931 black and white version of “Frankenstein” he characterises Dr. Frankenstein exceedingly well, but not truthfully towards Shelley’s novel.
Firstly he changes his name from Victor (meaning victory) to Henry; this could relate to Whale’s view that Frankenstein is not victorious in the novel. Frankenstein wears a typical long, white lab coat to suggest clearly to the audience that he is a professional doctor. It could also connote to the audience that he is smart, well brought up, devoted and possibly a perfectionist. This is also shown by the way Frankenstein’s hair is always perfectly tidy and combed. These are deliberate decisions made by the director, as this is the way he wants Dr. Frankenstein to be portrayed.