Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Frankenstein: Perhaps the Most Misunderstood of All Monsters.

I really feel for the Monster in Frankestein- I do. Not only is he created and brought back to life against his will, taunted by Igor and chased by peasants- he doesn't even get a real name! This perplexes me as so many refer to him as Frankenstein or maybe even as "Frankie" but he's not- he's nothing he's "a monster"!! It's one of those things that I find very hard to swallow- kind of like how knowing that a tomato is a fruit, and that Pluto isn't a planet...only more devastating.


I guess it just seems to be convenient and comfortable that the monster's name be Frankenstein because he looks like a Frankenstein. But perhaps he only looks like a Frankenstein because we associate the word Frankenstein with his face? See! It's a conundrum! It drives me mad, keeps me up at night and makes it really difficult to put on a happy face day to day. Maybe you think that's a little eccentric but the anomaly that is Frankenstein and the monster and their identities will soon start to haunt your dreams too! Just remember that Frankenstein is just the wacko scientist that created....the monster!

Frankenstein is of course a classic in horror history. The iconic images of Boris Karloff first coming to life, taking his first steps into the laboratory and throwing the little farm girl into the lake- are images that resonates far into the minds of most of us- horror fan or not. What this film must have done to it's viewers back in good old 1931 is beyond me.

What always gets me the most about this film however is the mistreatment and misunderstanding of the monster. He pretty much does nothing wrong except fear for his life- and the smelly peasants have to drive him out like The Beast just because he killed some annoying girl by accident. I guess he also killed the doctor and FRITZ- but honestly Fritz deserved it. Who waves a torch maliciously at a poor helpless monster? Nobody.

OH and Fritz... it's also your fault for getting a criminals brain to use in the first place. Not that it mattered much- because in all honesty I don't see much of his criminal, murdering side. The remorse that he shows after the scene with the little girl is far too startling and too genuine for him to ever have a mean thought in his brain. He was merely confused and the fact that he did show remorse speaks worlds.

My favorite images are the hanging man in the beginning
, and of course the burning windmill scene at the end. I will also always have a soft spot for that throwing flowers in the lake scene though....
so chilling and truly heartbreaking. It's the same heartbreak I felt in The Monster Squad when the monster realizes his face is "scary". Yeah that's right, I just made a real pouty face thinking about that scene...

Watching Frankenstein again also makes me think that it's time we had another monster movie. But an original monster- NOT a remake. Something classy....something sassy...something that shakes us to the core the same way that Frankenstein did in 1931! .....I'll think about it and get back to you. Anyone else agree it's high time we bring the monster movie back? Zombies don't count!

Buy Frankenstein at Horror Movie Empire

12 comments:

Gory said...

Great piece!! I have nothing to add. You said it perfectly.

Although I must be "that guy" and just point out that Frankenstein is the creator. The dead guy is basically just the monster. Or also known as Frankenstein's Monster.

Don't mean to be picky on that.

Andre said...

I know! Isn't that what I said? Maybe I worded it too confusingly...I meant that people think the monster is Frankenstein but he's just the monster of Frankenstein's!

Gory said...

You did. I read it too quickly and misunderstood. Completely on my end. Sorry about that.

Andre said...

Hahah phew I thought I made a drastic error!

Now you just look like a punk! Jk. I think I re-worded it so it's not confusing to other people though...!

Gory said...

That's what I get for being "that guy". lol

The Vicar of VHS said...

Cool write-up! It's seldom discussed, but I always thought it was weird how they go to such lengths to explain the monster's violent ways by giving him a criminal brain, but when he's brought back to life, he's basically a clean slate--the "evil" he does is inspired not by any innate evilness, but by understandable (if perhaps over-big) reactions to the cruelty/horror with which people treat him, or else his super-strength coupled with innocent child-like naivete (as when he thinks the girl, being as beautiful as the flowers, will float like they do--a really touching tragic scene in its way, as in the original cut you can see the monster is horrified when she doesn't come back up to the surface).

Of course this "blank slate" idea coincides with one of the themes of the novel, which is that the monster becomes evil because he is feared and unloved, not vice versa. Had he been treated kindly, accepted by his creator, "I should have been thy Adam!" (quote from the book). Instead he's given cruelty and horror, and that's what he gives back.

Also, I hate to be "that guy" again, but the hunchback servant played by Dwight Frye in the first movie is not named Igor, but Fritz. Ygor (with a Y) doesn't come along till SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, and is played by an awesome Bela Lugosi. :)

B-Sol said...

Nice piece. This is such a powerful movie, and I always try to put myself in the mindset of a 1930s audience coming to it for the very first time. Stripped away of all the decades of baggage, it really is a horrifying concept!

And yeah, I always felt it a bit naive and quaint in the movie version how we get the whole "criminal brain" idea. That's nowhere in the novel, and seems to be a very pat way of explaining the monster's behavior. Not to sound like too much of a bleeding heart, but unless we're talking about criminally INSANE--the brain of a criminal is just a regular brain.

But Karloff is absolutely brilliant in this, without saying a word. And while we all know his name is not actually "Frankenstein", I'd also like to be the annoying dude to point out that the lab assistant is actually not named Igor--his name is Fritz! Another common mistake. Igor is the Bela Lugosi character that doesn't show up until the third movie in the series...

Andre said...

Ah yes you are both right, I guess I never paid attention to what his name actually was, I blame this on the fact that I hate him.

Doruk said...

Hmmmm... I did read somewhere (would credit it if I remembered where but I don't :/) that even if the monster is not named in the book (or movie), his name should be Frankenstein anyway since he is Dr. Frankenstein's 'son'. It made sense to me at the time of reading.

Andre said...

Hmmm that's a very interesting thesis statement Doruk! I expect a 5 page paper on that tomorrow.

Ace89 said...

I find the most remarkable thing about this film is the pathos that Karloff creates in his performance. DeNiro in "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" proved that it is damn difficult to project pathos- and he got to actually speak! Karloff is- as the tag line to "The Mummy" puts it- uncanny.

Anonymous said...

This version of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff is well made but the Mary Shelley novel is way better. In the novel the monster learns how to talk fluently and even learns how to read. The monsters appearance is said to be ugly and thats the main reason almost everyone shuns him. Its a sick cruel joke. The monster is intensely lonely. If I made a movie version of Frankenstein I would focus on the monsters alienation and loneliness and not on the violence. I would show that the real monsters are the irresponsible and stupid Dr. Frankenstein and the cruel ignorant stupid people who mistreat the monster. One of the themes of Frankenstein is alienation and loneliness. In Bride of Frankenstein a female companion is created for the monster but of course it doesnt work out. Its a tragedy. Frankenstein has great relevance as it illustrates the cruelty of society.