“Life, do you hear me? Give my creation life!”

Gene Wilder’s, well, wild invocation in Mel Brooks’s “Young Frankenstein,” added to the crazed look on his face helped establish the insanity of Frankenstein’s character in the movie. This of course follows the same mythos that the general public knows the story by: insane Dr. Frankenstein becomes an engineer of human life, attempting to create an artificial being. In at least two movie adaptations, he is assisted by a hunchbacked Igor and together they are successful, with the iconic “It’s alive!” being heard in both that I am familiar with. Then the stories diverge, with the common one ending with a final confrontation where the monster is burned to death. The 1994 movie is the closest to being an accurate representation of the book, with only a few plot points diverging.

There are elements of the true story within the commonly known version (though, how else would it still remain a version of the story), but they are incredibly stretched to adapt to the entertainment world. The original story’s main character is a man who is often depressed and/or ill, and a weak main character is rarely a boon for movies or pop stories. It is justifiable, then, to inject Frankenstein with more oomph – in the form of a mad scientist persona that makes him much more interesting than a fearful and almost paranoid man. In addition to this, it wouldn’t be as interesting of a movie if the prime antagonist isn’t evil, simply misunderstood and lonely. Yes, he is spiteful and vengeful, but these alone do not make a good villain for pop films, where morality is generally required to be very black and white.

In many senses, it is unfortunate that people are only familiar with these “inaccurate” versions of the story. But i am content to enjoy Mary Shelley’s version and let others seek the original story if they so desire.

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