Monday, October 31, 2005

The Bride of Frankenstein

Last weekend, my nephew and I sat down to watch the Bride of Frankenstein. His younger brother scuttled away upon seeing Boris Karloff's monster. My nephew stayed glued to the tv set watching the movie. I would not blame My eyes were also fixed to the tv set. It probably is the one of the best films of all time and it is ,at least for me the best Frankenstein movie of all time.

The movie begins with a conversation between Lord Byron, the Poet Shelley and his wife Mary Shelly, Elsa. Amidst, the thunderstorm besieging the castle Mary Shelley, Elsa Lanchester, is more than willing to continue her tale of Frankenstein and his monster.

After a brief recap of events the tale continues. A reformed Frankenstein, still played by Colin Clive, recovers from the fall from the burning windmill and is set to marry. However, unknown to him the monster, Boris Karloff, has survived and his mentor Dr Pretorius has come to visit him. Pretorius played by Ernest Thesiger has also been conducting experiments and needs Frankenstein to give life to his own creation.

The movie seems to have a more meatier story than the first. It develops the story of the monster his pain and the development of his personality. In fact the monster has several poignant scenes in the movie. This is in term off-set by the scene-stealing and devilish scened of Pretorius. My nephews favourite was the scene where Pretorius showcased his creations. And the introduction of Pretorius' penultimate creation, the Bride, is a scene beyond words and deserves to be etched into the immortal hall of cinema history. Add to this the garnishing of intelligent dialogue between the characters.

The first dialogue between the Monster and Pretorius -

Dr. Pretorius: Do you know who Henry Frankenstein is, and who you are?
The Monster: Yes, I know. Made me from dead. I love dead... hate living.
Dr. Pretorius: You are wise in your generation. We must have a long talk, and then I have an important call to make.

Several critics have further lauded the film because of its sexual undertones and its dance with taboo topics, like homosexuality. This has been explicity explored in the critically acclaimed movie Gods and Monsters, a movie where Sir Ian McKellan essayed the role of Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein's director Frank Whales. Maybe it is valid and maybe its not. One thing will not change and that this is a fine movie.

Both Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein is actually based on Shelley's single novel. Whales may have tweaked with the story a bit, but he did it in such a fine way that it is a movie one should not be ashamed of. My nephew and I agree on this.

As the delightfully sinister Dr Pretorius would say, "To a new world of gods and monsters!"

Kenneth Branagh's version is a bit more faithful to the book, but for sheer cinamtic pleasure, I guess, nothing beats James Whale's cinematic opus.

It is a nice movie to watch on Halloween Night.

Bride of Frankenstein:
Directed by James Whale. Adapted to the screen by William Hurlbut and John L. Balderston (as John Balderston).Written by Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein
Cast: Boris Karloff as The Monster, Colin Clive as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, Valerie Hobson as Elizabeth Frankenstein, Ernest Thesiger as Dr. Pretorius, Elsa Lanchester as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and ? as The Monster's Mate.


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