The novel Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley has been used as a
model for many movies, and throughout many movies, there are references to
her outstanding novel, but nothing quite encompasses all of it’s qualities like the
movie Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Although some Hollywood drama is thrown
into the movie, many of the minor details of the novel are included as well as the
overall plot of the novel.
The movie starts off with woman’s voice, Mary Shelley, giving some
background to why she wrote the novel. The movie avoided all of the letters
written by Walton to Margaret, and move onto the storm that brings them
stranded, surrounded by only ice for miles. The movie basically summarizes
what happened to Walton in the letters to a five minute segment. While Walton
argues with one of the crew members, an unexpected moan from further away
catches the crew’s attention. A figure then appears, which turns out to be, from
previous knowledge, Victor. The director decided not to include the dogs from
the sled though. Another moan. The dogs upon the ship break lose and run to
where the noises were coming from and are seen killed very quickly. the
monster is then seen coming toward the ship.
The story of Victor begins in the next frame. He is seen as a child
dancing with Caroline who is pregnant. Justine is playing the piano, and his
father comes in with an orphan. This is where we meet Elizabeth.
The next scene is where Victor is in his mid twenties and he is working on
science. His mother comes in and reveals that Victor will be a better doctor than
his father. They then move to where Caroline is giving birth to her child, and
Victor’s father has to cut her to let the child live. Unfortunately, Caroline dies
after birth. This is completely different from the novel, because Caroline dies
from scarlet fever after contracting it from Elizabeth. Anyway, as the child is
being born, Victor sees the tree being struck by lightning, which occurs earlier in
the plot of the novel.
The next scene in the movie takes place three years later. He is seen
with Justine, Elizabeth, and William in the hills. A thundercloud then
approaches and Victor conducts an experiment with them and electricity. The
next scene is a going away party for Victor. There is dancing, then Victor’s
father does a speech about how his mother left him a journal for his research.
Victor then travels to Ingolstadt, where he is to go to school and research. He
there meets Henry Clerval, another student at the University. But in the book,
Henry had been Victor’s closest friend all his life. He then makes a name for
himself at school by arguing points of view with Mr. Krempe, his professor. It is
when Waldman, another professor, yells at Victor for his outbursts of opinion
where we get to see what Victor will be doing for the rest of his life. Waldman’s
research and experiments fascinated Victor. When Waldman was stabbed to
death by a common person (played by Robert DeNiro), Victor took over and
completed what Waldman had been doing for years. The common man was
hanged for murder. Victor then had to gather raw materials, so he cuts down the
man, and uses his body parts for most of the body. He gets Waldman’s brain to
make his creation smart. He pays midwives to save amniotic fluid from
childbirth and give it to him for his experiments. The movie goes into more detail
of his experiments than the novel.
Elizabeth comes to Ingolstadt and argues with Victor to go home, and
Victor refuses. After the monster is born, Victor abandons the experiment and
writes is his journal that it is over. He then puts the journal in his cloak and goes
to sleep. When he awakes, the monster is over him, and Victor runs away. The
monster then puts on the cloak, and proceeds into the village. In the next scene,
the monster is seen sleeping in an alleyway where he learns to eat. He smells a
roll, was caught and chased away by the village people. He jumps on a cart and
falls off when it reaches the forest.
It is then where we see Henry nursing Victor in his apartment in
Ingolstadt, and Elizabeth, as a surprise to Victor, is playing the piano. It is then
seen that the monster finds a cottage where the DeLacey family lived. He hides
in the pig pen, where he learns to speak and read, meanwhile helping the family
with the harvest. The monster then finds the blind man in the woods, and tries to
approach him. the story then switches to Victor, who was packing up to go back
to Geneva to get married to Elizabeth. When they arrive, William, Victor’s little
brother takes the locket that Victor gave Elizabeth to show one of his friends,
Peter. The locket had picture of Victor in it, not one of Caroline as written in the
novel. William runs into the monster, and runs away. When the monster sees
the picture of Victor, he goes after William. The family is upset that William
hasn’t come home and, frantically, everyone in the house searches for him in the
woods. Finally, Elizabeth finds him, strangled. Justine then turned into a
suspect of his murder and is hanged, but without a trial.
The monster then approaches Victor and tells him to meet him at “the sea
of ice” in the mountains. Victor then travels there and they confront on the
monster’s ground. The monster demands a companion, and Victor complies
more quickly than in the novel. The monster then picks out his body he wants to
be his wife, Justine. Victor refuses to make him a wife using Justine. The
monster tells him that he will be there on Victor’s wedding night.
Victor and Elizabeth are then seen getting married. While everyone is
outside, the monster kills Victor’s father, who was bedridden. After the
ceremonies, Victor and Elizabeth planned on taking some sort of ferry, but there
weren’t anymore for the night. So they retired to a chateau, and with plenty of
guards, went into their room. Victor was “interrupted” when he hears the whistle
of a flute that the monster had told him he could play. Victor runs out of the
room to see what is going on, and then hears screams from his room where
Elizabeth was. As Victor entered, the monster tears out the heart of Elizabeth.
The monster then escapes as people shot at him.
Victor takes Elizabeth to his lab and creates a new woman using Justine’s
body and Elizabeth’s head. After born, she learns to dance with Victor and
Victor is happy that Elizabeth was slightly still herself. The monster then enters
and calls the new girl over to her. She goes back and forth, and eventually she
is confused and they are fighting over her. She breaks everyone apart, and in
her madness and confusion, she destroys herself and the house by breaking an
oil lamp over her head.
The movie then goes to present time in the ship with Walton. Victor is
sick, and dies within two minutes of seeing him. The monster goes into his
bedroom and sobs. The crew now believe Victor’s story. The crew then have a
funeral for Victor, when they are about to burn him, the ice breaks up, and the
crew is separated. The monster falls into the water, takes the torch and swims
to Victor where he sets both him and Victor on fire. Walton then decides it was
time to go home.
The quality of acting in this movie was phenomenal. Robert DeNiro, who
played the monster, did an excellent job in developing his character, and did not
fall into the traits of the previously depicted monster, also known as
Frankenstein. Helena Bonham Carter, who played Elizabeth, did a fantastic job
when she was brought back to life. Kenneth Branagh did an excellent job acting
as Victor. All other actors portrayed the characters as depicted in the novel.
The fact that the director changed some major details of the novel
disappointed me. In the novel, a female creation doesn’t even come close to
being alive, and in the movie, she is brought to life, and develops a short life.
None of the letters are included in the movie, and additional, made up scenes
are inserted into the movie. But overall, they were both, although different, two
works of art.