Above is a picture of me with the child-like Frankenstein Monster in Madame Tussauds Museum of Wax in New York City.
I truly considered "Frankenstein" to be an amazingly scary and heartbreaking film when I first viewed it on television as a child in the early 1970's. Today, I feel that it is a cinematic masterpiece that has never been surpassed by its countless sequels and remakes. Although the film may look a little primitive by today's standards, I consider it to be quite sophisticated. In comparison to many of the early talkies I have seen, "Frankenstein" is still very enjoyable to watch today for those who are not used to the films of that era. James Whale's direction is particularly impressive because of his great camera angles, close-ups of the monster, and creepy atmosphere at a time when most early talkies were rather stagey and the camera hardly moved at all. The film's eerie background and wonderful camerawork, however, is not its greatest strengths; the real power of "Frankenstein" is in its underlying themes or messages.
The black and white photography used in the film gives it a slight element of surrealism. It definitely sets the mood for its dark aspects. Blackened skies, thunder, lightning, and foggy graveyards appropriately gives it an uncomfortably cold ambience. The grainy texture of the film also adds to its gloominess.
Unlike the horror films of today, James Whale gives the monster a good deal of humanity. Frankenstein's monster is portrayed as a grotesque-looking, frightened creature who does not understand his surroundings. I love how Whale makes the viewer empathize for the monster who is forced into a new environment by his creator, Dr. Frankenstein, where he is rejected because of his appearance. I could not help but feel pity for the monster because he had to endure so much cruelty; he was not only abandoned by his creator, but also tortured by his assistant, Fritz. The monster is like an innocent child living in a world of hatred and fear. I felt sorry for the monster even when he killed the little girl because he did not understand the consequences of his action. It seems that the message Whale is trying to communicate to the viewer is that the real monster is not the creature but the fear and hatred society has for those who are different. In my opinion, the true monster in the film is Dr. Frankenstein because he brought the creature to life and then was unwilling to take the responsibilities that go with it. "Frankenstein" is a powerful and moving film even after seventy-eight years because all the modern computer generated images can never give the same effect as Boris Karloff's terrifying and sympathetic monster. His physical performance speaks more than words ever could.
Posted by Silentfilmfanatic