The movie is an adaptation of Mary Shelly’s novel, “Frankenstein.” In this film, very few things differ from the novel. This film is underlined by very strong and emotive morals that are seen throughout the movie in many different forms – the most obvious is that obsessions can result in dramatic and terrifying consequences) Brannagh displays to the viewer how harmful these obsessions can be through emotive, painful, gruesome, and theatrical scenes. The dramatic portrayals of the consequences of the actors’ ambitions are palpable to the observer.
The movie opens with dramatic scene of a ship and its crew stranded on an island on their venture to the North Pole. The cyclic narrative story begins when Walton’s crew hear loud ‘growl’ like noises coming from the mountains – Frankenstein’s creation. Frankenstein appears, cold and fearful and he begins to narrate his life to the crew. This is a bid to try to stop Walton forcing his crew to continue on to the North Pole. Victor tries to warn Walton that blinding ambition is the most destructive weapon ever known to man.
Frankenstein starts to tell his story from the beginning, to the time when Frankenstein was a young boy. Frankenstein’s recollection displays that he had a very happy somewhat unrealistic childhood and a very close relationship with his mother. As Victor continues to tell his story of how his mother dies – in the book she dies from nursing Elizabeth yet in the Film she dies from child birth.) The mother either way in each case is forced to undergo some form of self-sacrifice. The fact that the mother does not voluntary die is the most painful part that Frankenstein cannot comprehend. Victor then vows that from this day on he will stop all pain and suffering in the world. (This is quite ironic because as the story develops Frankenstein hurts more and more people, most of them being very close friendships) This scene also displays that through out the film with the want of life comes death. Hence, this is where his obsession begins.
The atmosphere of the film changes as Frankenstein goes to university. As the scene first appears it is a dismal and dull surrounding. Here that viewer can predict that this will be the focus of all misfortunes and evil. It is here that there is just one example of how Brannagh Cleverly uses pathetic fallacy to create a tense atmosphere. Victor enters the University with a good friend Henry (This also partially differs from Shelly’s novel as Victor does not befriend Henry until he is at the university.) It is here that Victor meets a very intelligent scientist, and the scientist later reveals to Victor that he knows how to create life. Victor’s curiosity increases. Later we see an example of how inhumane Victor becomes as he uses the brain of this professor to make the monster.
When the professor dies, Frankenstein soon finds his notes and begins to develop them. It is here that he stops writing to home and begins to isolate himself from society, this action alone shows how selfish Victor is towards not only everyone close to him, but also we see later to the monsters needs and to society itself for placing such a burden into the world. While all this is happening Elizabeth is worried about Victor but still proclaims that he is writing to her by forging letters to keep the family moral up. Also meanwhile, Justine has become the mother figure towards Victor’s brother, but also for the rest of the family.
Frankenstein is wallowing in his self-absorption and work on his creation. He begins to lack basic grooming and hygiene and loses all care and consideration for anything except the creation. Brannagh emphasises this by setting him in a dark, dull, gloomy attic with complete isolation, all Frankenstein does is work, eat and sleep (yet sometimes he even lacks eating and sleeping.) As soon as Victor reaches closer to the end of his project plague spreads through the town.
Elizabeth, although Victor has neglected her for such a long period, goes forth to fetch him and save him from the plague. When she gets there victor is in a state of panic and has to hide all his work. (This is where you begin to wonder weather he knows what he is doing is wrong and whether he is ashamed of himself). When Elizabeth sees him she is disgusted with the state he has allowed himself to become accustomed to, frustrated as he still refuses to explain why he has not replied to her letters, but still craving for him to love her and welcome her.
Victor still refuses to leave as his project is so close to completion yet begs Elizabeth to leave. Elizabeth does leave yet still confused. It is here where it is most blatantly obvious that Victor has not considered and of the consequences as he rushes to finish his creation so, he may soon leave. The use of technical and photographical imagery here by Brannagh is very impressive. The dark attic is even more gloomy that ever and with the plague spreading through the village the is the presence of death ebbing all around, this is ironic as Frankenstein is trying to accomplish the total opposite, It is also here at the time of plague that Victors scientific breakthrough may be appreciated, no more death!