Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Good Story 125: Frankenstein

Julie rented some lab space, Scott went to find some brains. They saw this in a movie once and are pretty sure it will work. Episode 125, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

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  1. Another excellent discussion.

    One thing I found interesting was the subtitle "The Modern Prometheus" when I found out about it. It does add another dimension to Victor's hubris. He would snatch life from the gods and he would bestow it on others. The total lack of "should I do it" instead of just the "can I do it." Something that of course is even more evident today. The field of medical ethicists is now what I call vile-ethicists instead of bioethicist. Plus Victor even after being confronted with his error, sees no real error and does not try to correct his original viewpoint. Totally self-absorbed and he finds himself persecuted by the result of his own actions.

    Last year I did re-watch the classic movie versions. I happened to be reading the Repairman Jack series and the hero is a bit of a classic film buff and part of his character background talks about films. He was speaking of having a personal James Whale marathon - the director who did Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Invisible Man, The Old Dark House along with other films. So I had my own James Whale marathon. These films really are quite excellent in their own right despite the departure from the novels they were based on. Although watching Frankenstein again and seeing a credit to "Mrs. Percy Shelley" rather annoyed me. At least Bride of Frankenstein gave her the full credit.

    On another tangent, it is interesting how movies can so change a character. Thinking of both Frankenstein's Monster and Tarzan - they were both amazing linguists. Being able to pick up the language and reading on their own with no real teacher were amazing capabilities. Yet the movie characters either grunts or is confined to very simplistic language.

    1. After we were done I remembered that we completely forgot to talk about the subtitle. So glad that you discussed it here! I knew someone would help us out that way!

      It is interesting the sorts of artistic choices that are made in adapting books to movies. Some of them are understandable, consider the differences between them. Others are mind bogglingly different and you wonder if the directors even liked the original story.

  2. The monster's dialogue is chilling. A pale reflection of Victor himself he represents almost everything the eugenics "superman" was supposed to be, except just a little off to be frightening. He has tremendous strength which can only kill, amazing intellect which can't think through anything, and a desperate hope for love that he mistakes as envy and greed.

    The Paradise Lost comparison in the book is fairly on the nose. The monster being as bent as he was could only understand Lucifer's motives. He could only chase after his Creator in the same way.

    It's one of my favorite books, one of those classics I can definitely agree deserves to labeled one.

  3. I haven't seen any film versions of the story...though I believe my first ever exposure to any permutation of this book was a Wishbone episode (PBS for the win). I read the book for the first time as preparation to see a theatrical version, and loved it. It's remarkable how it isn't that long, but is rich with themes to dig into - what it means to be human, the dangers of science the consequences of 'playing' with life, friendship, love - so much to kick around. And still so relevant.

    The theater production I referenced was the National Theatre's Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller alternating the lead roles. They did take a few creative liberties with the story, but it was an incredible production, especially the role of the creature, which required an astonishing level of physicality for the actors - even more impressive when one considers that they alternated the role for every other show. It was interesting to gain some insight into the actors' preparation to play the creature during a video intro to the show- each actor took a slightly different approach: for one, the physicality of the creature was informed through the lens of paralyzed man regaining his functions, and the other actor crafted his version of the creature to closely mimic the process of a baby learning to get his legs under him for the first time (unsurprisingly, influenced significantly by the fact that he had a toddler at home while rehearsing). Unfortunately, true to theater culture, no recordings of the performances are being made available for commercial sale (I myself saw a live broadcast in a movie theater) - but we might get lucky someday! For now, you can still enjoy the trailer.