A truly classic movie for this – and every – Halloween season – “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”!

Production Info

Robert De Niro …. The Creature
Kenneth Branagh …. Victor Frankenstein
Tom Hulce …. Henry Clerval
Helena Bonham Carter …. Elizabeth
Aidan Quinn …. Ship Captain Walton
Ian Holm …. Baron Frankenstein
Richard Briers …. Grandfather
John Cleese …. Professor Waldeman

Complete info can be found at imdb.com
The DVD release can be found at Amazon.com

Premise

A brilliant doctor sets out to save the world from the horrors of death – and instead unleashes horrors unknown.

High Point

It’s really tough to say – probably the faithfulness to the original story.

Low Point

This is a difficult choice as well – on thing that, upon watching this again, has always bothered me is a single effect in the beginning of the movie, of a hand coming down on a block of ice – it seems very…fake. Definitely cut into the scene being shown in the background. Also, towards the end, it appears that the entire Frankenstein estate was pre-soaked in oil. I didn’t know that was the fashion of the time.

The Review

This is very obviously (to anyone who has seen his “Hamlet”) a Branagh directed film – Produced,
starred in, and directed by a critically acclaimed Shakesperean actor with a towering ego and a passion for accuracy, it comes through loud and clear throughout the movie. That is not a bad thing. If you have seen his “Hamlet”, then you know that, while his attention to detail does tend to drag out a story almost interminably, you also get the most compelling version of that
story you’re ever likely to see on screen.
It is for that reason that I, ashamed though I am to admit it, having never read the book beyond
the first few dozen pages, am willing to trust that this is, in fact, an almost completely faithful interpretation. Even if you’re not aware of the nature of the director, none of it feels like a Hollywood modification.
All of that said upfront, this is a movie you need to see if you have any interest in the Frankenstein story. Unfortunately, it is not a movie for the squeamish. And you may not even know you’re squeamish. Me? Not normally squeamish – but for this movie, very squeamish. I like the word “squeamish” (Can you tell?). It is a verygruesome movie. I was often uncomfortable, and honestly didn’t “enjoy” the experience a great deal of the time. It was, however, an excellent movie. The difference between a movie and a film has been discussed on this site before – this was most definitely a film. (That’s not to say that it’s not a very enjoyable movie to some people.

The Scores

The originality of this movie has to be fudged – in one sense it’s completely unoriginal because it’s a completely faithful adaptation of the book. On the other hand, it’s completely original because it’s a completely faithful adaptation of the book. Because of the excellence of
the film, I’m going to go with a 5 of 6 for managing that feat.

The effects were often the worst part – perhaps this was mostly due to production. I don’t really know. To be fair, there were hundreds of effects that went unnoticed because they
were so good. There were even more that felt so real that they didn’t register as effects. There were only a handful that felt “wrong”, and they were the points I focused on when finding fault. So, 4 out of 6.

The story was, of course, a classic. How can I give this any less that 6 out of 6.

The acting was exceptional. Branagh has yet to turn in a performance I didn’t like, and Helena Bonham Carter is very talented (not very pretty, but very talented). I would never have picked De Niro as the creature, but he was probably the best casting choice made in the
entire movie. I can’t even begin to describe the sympathy and revulsion he evokes – regardless of his makeup. 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is high, holding up under repeated viewings. There’s a kind of torment for me every time I watch Frankenstein’s family stripped away from him piece by piece, his sanity and his soul broken with such deliberate malice. I shudder even now in the light of day. It’s difficult to become desensitized to such as this. 6 out of 6.

Again, the production is wherein the only failings lie. There is variable quality to the film itself in places, though I’m not sure if that’s a problem with the movie or the DVD transfer. Still, these things are minor in a movie like this, so 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s an excellent movie. I watch it again and again despite my discomfort. That’s definitely worth a 6 out of 6.

In total, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein recieves a score of 37 out of 42.

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