Reviews of Frankenstein (1818) and related work

Frankenstein (1818Text)

Mary Shelley (writer).

The first monster in literary history who points an accusing finger at its own human creator.

SF. Several good ideas, but the writer’s inexperience makes for a lot of plot holes and digressions.

References here: Sutter’s Cloud, The Last Man (1826), “The Phantom Coach” (1864), “The Outsider” (1926), Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Re-Animator (1985), “Brothers” (1990).

text fiction

Frankenstein (1931Moving picture, 70 minutes)

References here: The Mummy (1932), “Bosko’s Mechanical Man” (1933), Story of Science Fiction (2018).

moving picture adaptation fiction

‣‣ Bride of Frankenstein (1935Moving picture, 75 minutes)

Less formulaic, but now with comic relief and even more Christian redemptionism. That scene with the three Romantic writers implies the 1931 film had much to do with the novel, a common false belief. Also boobs.

References here: “Ravishing of Frank N. Stein” (1982).

moving picture sequel fiction

Young Frankenstein (1974Moving picture, 106 minutes)

moving picture parody fiction

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994Moving picture, 123 minutes)

Seen in 2022.

This is the version where a smallpox anti-vaxxer shivs John Cleese.

Helena Bonham Carter had the perfect face for these melodramatic period pieces. This one is impressive in its ambitions but typically ignorant, as the teenage author was in her own time. Acupuncture, for example, was in reality excluded from the Imperial Medical Institute of China in 1822, because the majority of Chinese doctors around 1800 correctly understood it to be a pseudoscience without medical value. It was an even more obscure topic in the West at that time. Interest in acupuncture revived sufficiently to mislead Kenneth Branagh when authoritarian communists took over the country in 1949 and promoted the practice because they could not afford science-based medicine for the workers, only for the rulers. An author like Shelley could reasonably have referenced acupuncture for a touch of orientalist fantasy, but thankfully she didn’t. She didn’t use a giant sack full of eels in amniotic fluid either. This is not her Frankenstein, just like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) is not Stoker’s. Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is kitsch, albeit with impressive production design and a couple of wide shots imitating Caspar David Friedrich.

References here: Story of Science Fiction (2018).

moving picture adaptation Japanese production fiction