Kenneth Branagh’s 1994 film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein greatly differed from the original novel written in 1818. Not only were certain elements altered however in addition, the personalities of several major characters, and how the audience portrays them was quite different. For example, the main distinction within the novel and the film are the role of women. In the novel, Elizabeth is treated as a trophy; her opinions are not important to Victor. In the novel, Victor treats women passively and feels superiority to them; he cannot take advice from them. Women play a more relaxed role in the novel. They do not make any decisions, and allow me to take advantage of them.
This is seen primarily when Victor decides the fate of Elizabeth when they are young and that how one day they will be wed. However in the novel, Elizabeth is a young determined and driven woman. She does not allow Victor to take advantage of her, nor does she let Victor make her decisions. For example, Elizabeth walks out on Victor before the wedding. She does this out of anger and frustration due to not understanding the current situation; the creatures ultimatum. This demonstrates the audience that Elizabeth is not afraid of taking initiative and standing up for what she believes to be right.
Next, the character of Victor Frankenstein has greatly differed from the novel to the film. For example, in the novel, Victor is conveyed as a monster whose decisions cause the death of many, including his loved ones. However, the film does not portray his demonic character traits, but those of a kind noble gentleman. For example in the novel, when Justine is being trialed, Victor does not care to help her. He would rather protect his image, than save the life of a young innocent girl. In addition he believes her death to be collateral damage and unimportant to him.
Contrary, in the film, Victor attempts to save Justine, making him look less like a monster and more humane. He runs through the village attempting to save her. Moreover, in the film, when Victor creates life, he does not abandon it. He attempts to help it up and save it, however the creature becomes caught in chains and hung, therefore leading Victor to believing it was dead. The film does not transmit Victor’s evil and malicious personality; rather it showcases Victor’s internal self as a good individual whose fate was predetermined by God. The film does not depict how Victor Frankenstein, in the novel, is a shallow, self centered, egotistical individual.
Moreover, I preferred the novel to the film for the sole reason that in the film Victor’s internal character was falsely depicted. Victor is supposed to be a monster who does not think rationally, however in the film, his character stood for the exact opposite. His character attempted to save the life of Justine, as well as save the creature he had bred life into. Furthermore, in the film, the creature’s character is show to be more like a monster. For example, in the novel, the creature does not steal from the cottagers, whereas in the film he steals food from the starving cottagers. Next, when the creature and the Victor are discussing the ultimatum, the creature tells Victor that he enjoys murdering people.
On the contrary, in the novel, especially at the end, the creature admits that the guilt of murder is overwhelming and therefore he cannot live with his shame. Furthermore, I did appreciate the ability for women to seize power of their decisions however, the over glorification of Victor’s personality is a complete disgust, and therefore changes my appreciation of the film. In my personal opinion, the lesson of never judging someone for their appearance was not properly showcased. Unlike the novel, the film does not deliver the idea that even if someone where to look like a normal human, they could in fact be a monster, and that people must look beyond the superficiality of one’s exterior to fully appreciate the individual.
Courtney from Study Moose
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