Frankenstein (1931) Review

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The brain is useless. We must find another brain.

Frankenstein (1931): 5 out of 10: Frankenstein is a hard film to review. So much that was shocking in the film when it first came out is muted today. (desecration of the grave etc.) As a standalone film rather than an “American Classic” Frankenstein leaves much to be desired.

The film is very stagy with people exiting stage left and posing theatrically. The fight scene between the monster and the bride on her wedding day is Mystery Science Theater 3000 material. The movie is short (running about an hour) and character development is minimal. If you read Shelly’s original work, you are likely to be appalled by some changes.

The brain is in the film is one of a criminal (Abby Normal) as opposed to an everyman. This changes a major component of the novel. In the book, Frankenstein became evil because man rejected him, not because of some predestined nature. The destruction of Frankenstein’s family by his experiment that goes against God’s will is barely touched upon and the romance between Victor (excuse me Henry; they changed the name to Victor’s younger dead brother) and his fiancée is also not mentioned.

While the superior Bride of Frankenstein surprised me with its effectiveness and advanced film techniques, Frankenstein surprises with its brevity and staginess. But in its defense it is a classic, and Boris Karloff is great as the monster.

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