Tag Archive: Hollywood


Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is an exquisitely written novel with a cast of rich characters¬† that explores many important themes such as the dangers of knowledge, grief, loss, and existentialism. That, at least, is what I will think of from now on when the titular name comes to mind. However, there is a completely different image ingrained within the increasingly growing and dominant world of the media, one that lacks any of the aforementioned descriptors. It looks like this:

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It has become one of the most iconic scenes in any visual medium that has been recreated countless times: the vivid scene of a mad scientist pulling a lever to the sound of a raging thunderstorm as he witnesses the very monstrosity brought to life before him before screaming “It’s alive!”. To many, this is where the famous and well-renowned tale of Frankenstein begins and ends, failing to even move beyond the table on which Frankenstein’s monster was supposedly born from. Just like that, 280 pages of one of Mary Shelly’s finest works is condensed into one three minute scene that prevails as one of Hollywood’s most inspiring scenes to this day.

it's alive

It wasn’t too long ago that my mind also occupied that image, as I’m sure it just about occupies the minds of everyone unfamiliar with the original story. However, I’m not sure I can bring myself to rely on a three minute table scene to describe the tale of Frankenstein in my mind anymore after reading the book myself. There’s just so much more than madness and lightning and maniacal laughter that more people ought to experience for themselves. Victor Frankenstein is a complex and compelling character whose journey and life is filled with tragedy and remorse. He is a vulnerable man who learns the dangers of knowledge first-hand as he flees in fear of his creation and actions rather than celebrating with glee.¬† The creature he ends up creating proves to be more than just a mindless monster often depicted in the media, having more will to live and learn than most humans, saying that “life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it” (93). Furthermore, there are so many other explored characters and stories within the novel that are too fleshed out to be implemented in a small table scene, such as the lives of Agatha and Felix, or the wayfaring Robert Walton on a similar journey for knowledge and discovery as Victor Frankenstein once was. Simply put, there’s so much more to explore in the mind of Mary Shelly that’s beyond the table and I’m definitely glad I was able to look.

–Jose Ramirez

 

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frankestein

Andres Quezada

One of the misconceptions that I had about Frankenstein was that Frankenstein’s monster did receive the partner he asked for. I thought that he had gotten a partner, a family, a chance at love. Now I see that that it was all Hollywood smoke. My first encounter with Frankenstein was through the Cartoon Network show “Johnny Bravo”, where the main character , Johnny, was turned into Frankenstein’s monster to go after the female monster. I was only familiar with Frankenstein through Hollywood such as “The Munsters”, “The Adams Family,” and other cartoon renditions. I always thought Frankenstein’s monster was also just a drone, a lifeless body with no purpose in life. I thought he was a monster as well, but what makes him a monster, is it his looks, the way he was created?

After reading Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, I see that the “monster does indeed have life. He feels a range of emotions just as the rest of us. He feels guilt and remorse for his actions. He think, he feels alone, just like we all do at one point or another. He wants another person he can coexist with, he just wants what we all want in life. After reading the story, I find that the “monster” is more relate-able than I would have imagined. He’s just trying to live the life that he did not ask for. He was brought into the world without his consent as we all are, to try and survive in a society that does not accept anything abnormal. Frankenstein is more human than some humans. He’s misunderstood and goes through life with most of society not giving him a chance just as a lot of us do. He finds a taste of acceptance with the blind man who offers to home him, but his family begs him to get rid of the “monster” because he is seen as a monster and nothing more. He chases after his creator for answers just as many of us do as well. Frankenstein’s monster is not a monster, he is us just as Dr. Frankenstein is also us. They both deal with parallel issues of not being accepted and both desire attention from one another through the story.

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Name: Mary Russell

Hollywood making book to movie adaptations, and not following the book has been a massive source of frustration for me. Even with the success of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, directors still view adaptations as their “art,” like the book suddenly becomes their intellectual property. Perhaps they just want to make their own story but if that were the case they should have just done so instead of buying a copyright. Luckily in the modern era, we have movies like Harry Potter to prove that people really do like faithful adaptations. Unfortunately, Frankenstein was produced in 1931 when no one really cared about all that. The story was sensationalized, to attract a wider audience. The director made a story he believed would shock and scare people, paying no attention to the actual message of the novel.

The first, obvious, misconception is the creature’s name being Frankenstein. This is an honest mistake, after all the movie is titled Frankenstein and the creature’s face takes up most of the box art. Of course one would have to ignore the subtitle that says, “The man who made a monster.” The creature being depicted as green is another honest mistake. Frankenstein was released in black and white. Often, to portray color to an audience who can’t see any, sets and clothing would be strange colors. A good example is The Addams Family set. Their home appeared very Gothic and dark when in black and white, but in reality most set pieces were a light pink. This same technique applies to the creature. The actor was caked in green paint to make his skin appear unnaturally pale and dead. The contrast between his skin, and the dark circles under his eyes was strong in black and white. The actor actually being green influenced people to color the creature green.

The rest of the misconceptions about the novel are entirely Hollywood’s fault. The creature merely groans and stitches together fragmented sentences in the movie — to make him seem more like a monster — while in the novel he is more eloquent than Victor Frankenstein. The creature not only has a massive amount of strength, but a stunning intellect. He taught himself to speak and read in far less time than humans usually do. The movie erases this, and any sympathy one may have for the creature. In the movie he shambles and kills, and throws himself into violent rampages at the sight of fire. In the novel, no fear of fire is ever mentioned, in fact the creature is said to bare a torch at one point. He is violent, but graceful and calculating. His violence is not random, but thought out and planned. It is the result of emotional turmoil, not some bestial instinct.

The creature is complex and sympathetic. He yearns for a place in the world just like anyone else. The tragedy of his creation ruins any chance he has at friends or a family. When rejected by the world, he lashes out at the only one he can think to blame: Victor Frankenstein. Readers can sympathize with his turmoil because everyone has felt miserable with their lot in life. Everyone has felt angry at the world, at their “creator,” at nothing at all. While not everyone will resort to murder, they understand why the creature does. The movie strips these sentiments away. It turns the creature into a boogie man. Audiences can cheer on the villagers as they try to kill the creature, and feel relief when he dies. Sure it may be a little tragic, but overall his death is satisfying. That is the crime of Hollywood. He is made into a monster instead of the man he was.