Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Be warned.

Drama Horror Science Fiction
123 min     6.418     1994     United Kingdom


Based on Mary Shelley's novel, "Frankenstein" tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a promising young doctor who, devastated by the death of his mother during childbirth, becomes obsessed with bringing the dead back to life. His experiments lead to the creation of a monster, which Frankenstein has put together with the remains of corpses. It's not long before Frankenstein regrets his actions.


DRDMovieMusings wrote:
Excellent version of an enduring classic This is not a monster movie in any shallow slasher sense. It probes and contemplates some eternal questions humans have been pondering for thousands of years, set in a time when so many things we know today were yet unknown, adding to the mystery and horror of the situations that occurred. This movie has pathos, sumptuous sets, costumes and screenplay, some utterly disturbing scenes and ideas, and culminates in classic tragedy.
Wuchak wrote:
***Gothic mania with Kenneth Branagh, Robert DeNiro and Helena Bonham Carter*** Kenneth Branagh's 1994 version of the oft-filmed Frankenstein story was the most faithful to Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel up to that point, which explains its name. It features fine actors and looks great (sets, costumes, locations, etc). There are several quality scenes, like the creature's time spent with the peasant family where his unseen help is taken for a "good spirit of the woods." The first time I viewed the movie I was a little turned off by its manic style. People are introduced, scenes flash by, times shift and the soundtrack blares, which struck me as overdone. The characters seemed so melodramatic at times, emoting, yelling, running, confronting, fighting, dying: "Ahhhhhh!!" "NoooOOOOOoooooo!!!" I just wanted them to stop, take their meds, and chill for 5-10 minutes. I’ve since read Shelley’s book and watched the even more faithful version, Hallmark’s “Frankenstein” (2004) with Luke Goss playing the creature, which runs almost 3 hours. Seeing this version again I appreciated it more and was able to see how Branagh provides a nice balance between the hyper moments and more subdued sequences. If it sometimes seems too manic it’s because Branagh tried to cram the bulk of the novel into 2 hours. On the positive side, this makes it play better for those who prefer constant thrills, melodrama, etc. The 2004 version has almost another hour to play with and is more subdued and brooding. This one’s more of a “blockbuster.” Speaking of the 2004 rendition, the creature is more faithful to the book (with long black hair and white teeth), but he’s also too handsome in a dark gothic way, resembling Type O Negative’s Peter Steele. The creature in this version removes the hair and opts for a more gruesome depiction, which fits Victor’s description of the creature as “hideous.” In any case, De Niro does a fine job in the role. My favorite part is when the monster finds sanctuary with the rural family, unbeknownst to them. It helps the viewer get to know the creature and have compassion on his plight, but soon all sympathy is pretty much lost. On the other hand, he IS a 'monster’; and he has an interesting discussion with Victor in his remote glacial dwelling in the high country, which helps explain his actions. The locket-framing sequence is lame, but that was a weak point of the novel as well. While this version and the 2004 one are the most faithful to Shelley’s book, they each omit parts and change certain things. For instance, both omit Victor’s traveling to Scotland and, later, Ireland, which was a good call. This version alters a certain character’s death to a lynching while in the novel it was court-ordered hanging. Regardless, I enjoyed the surprise plot turn in the last act, which I’m not going to give away. And the tragic ending is well executed. "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" is similar to "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992) in that they both look awesome and were produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Any problems are due to translating convoluted 19th century gothic horror classics to modern cinema. The film runs 2 hours, 3 minutes, and was shot in England (Shepperton Studios) and the Swiss Alps. GRADE: B+
DocTerminus wrote:
Kenneth Branagh made quite an artistic hit with his first film **HENRY V**. Next, he had great critical and financial success with his popcorn flick,** DEAD AGAIN**! The success of both of those films meant he could take on any project he wanted. He chose **MARY SHELLY'S FRANKENSTEIN**. He would return to direct and star as Victor Frankenstein. He would bring along many of his friends including Patrick Doyle to add another aggressive and bombastic score. Because of his newfound clout, he was able to bring in Oscar winning screenwriter Frank Darabont (**THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION**, **CRASH**). Maybe his greatest display of the young directors status was bringing in Robert DeNiro to portray the creature! The resulting film with all of this incredible talent is... _silly._ I didn't have any good memories of the film in theaters in 1994. Especially awkward was DeNiro's creature spinning toward the camera and yelling _"Frankenstein!!!"_ which brought nothing but laughter from the crowd. I hoped my re-watch in 2022 would bring me a new perspective. While there were there things I noticed that I now appreciated, the flick is still silly. It must be said that Branagh's vision for the film is strong and clear. Darabont's script is very clever and multi-faceted. The music is excellent wall to wall support and some of the performances are noteworthy. Unfortunately, much of the subtlety in Darabont's script is lost in the big, loud film. Branagh's decision to showcase the birth of the creature as quasi-erotic is interesting, shirtless and sweating under firelight. His decision to have the brilliant doctor, when exposing his feelings of guilt, loses his ability to speech clearly and seems to mimic the creatures meter. We get it... who is actually the monster? Again, clear but over-the-top. Mostly missing are moments of circumspection and quiet. With its big budget and generally beautiful lighting and cinematography, it would seem this would be the type of bad movie that is fun to watch. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on that level either, as the film bounces between high art pretentiousness and lowest of gross out humor. I believe Branagh succeeded in getting his vision onto the screen and he has no reason to look down on his achievement. But as a big fan of his, I won't be with him with this monster.