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Frankenstein Comparisons Essay

954 words - 4 pages

James Whale's Frankenstein is a VERY loose adaptation of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel. The spirit of the film is preserved in its most basic sense, but the vast majority of the story has been entirely left out, which is unfortunate. The monster, for example, who possesses tremendous intellect in the novel and who goes on an epic quest seeking acceptance into the world in which he was created, has been reduced to little more than a lumbering klutz whose communication is limited to unearthly shrieks and grunts. Boris Karloff was understandably branded with the performance after the film was released, because it was undeniably a spectacular performance, but the monster's character was severely diminished from the novel.

James Whale's adaptation of the story of Frankenstein, while it is clearly and deservedly a horror classic, is tremendously less than it could have and SHOULD have been. There are unexplainable deviations from the novel, such as the fact that Dr. Frankenstein's name was, for some reason, changed from Victor in the novel to Henry in the film, and the film itself really only covers about a quarter to a third of one chapter in the book - that's how much has been left out. There was probably only about 5% or 6% of the full story included in this film, and I am willing to guess that the sheer magnitude of ignored material in the original story is at least as much of a reason that there were so many subsequent Frankenstein films (and Re-Animators and whatnot) as was the film's commercial success. This may, in fact, be one of those rare cases where the imitators may have just wanted to do it right, or at least tell the REST of the story.

Despite the fact that there was such a huge amount of material that was sadly left out of the film, it is still to be praised for many different reasons. Boris Karloff, for example, delivered a wonderful performance as Frankenstein's monster, and Colin Clive was absolutely amazing as Dr. Frankenstein. The make-up, especially (and obviously) on the part of the monster, was wonderfully disturbing, and even though so much was left out of the original story, it was clear that the monster was not inherently evil. The entire portion of the novel that is told from the monster's point of view is left out, the vast majority of his unfortunate experiences and his responses to them are removed at the expense of his character, his attempt to get Dr. Frankenstein to make him a female monster so that he will have companionship is left out, and his fascination with the world he found himself in was left out as well (he read Paradise Lost just because...

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