A Multifaceted Analysis of Frankenstein's Narrative in James Whale's Film

Categories: Frankenstein

This essay will examine the complex story of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein as it has been portrayed in the 1931 James Whale movie version called Frankenstein and in the 1994 Kenneth Brannagh . In this essay I will compare the two Frankenstein movies and cover some important points like describing Doctor Frankenstein and the monster he has created, the use of lighting, symbolism, music and sound, emotions and genre. I will also compare in what ways do these two movies have different settings and why.

I thought it would be interesting to also include a short analysis on the problem's involved in making the movie adaptation that have been based on Mary Shelley's original novel. There have been many movie adaptations to the Frankenstein novel by Mary Shelley throughout the years. However James Whale's 1931 movie Frankenstein and Kenneth Brannagh's 1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein are the most well-known. Comparing these two movies reveals many similarities but also many differences in the way the two directors try and stir up their audiences emotions such as fear, horror, shock, tension, compassion and empathy.

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The directors have used some different techniques such as, the use of lighting, camera angles and shots, sound effects, music and mise-en-scene (settings). For example, in the use of lighting in the first shot, both movies tried to create a mysterious and tense atmosphere. James Whale uses a dramatic use of darkness in his first scene, showing a long shot of a dark castle on top of a hill with rain and lightning. The sound of rain and thunder are also used instead of music to create an extra sense of fear.

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In comparison, Kenneth Brannagh uses more subtle use of light in his opening shot showing a burning candle against a big red wall. Rather than use dramatic lighting like in Whale's opening scene to create shadows, the 1994 movie by Brannagh uses the subtle but intense light of a burning candle to create shadows and an atmosphere of tension and suspense. Both directors used a similar idea in their opening scenes in that they did not use music. James Whale's use of storm like sound effects e. g. rain and thunder set the tone in his movie and Brannagh's use of silence emphasizing the candle set the tone for his first scene.

Although the 1931 movie is in black and white the shadows emphasize the dramatic lighting which shows the intensity of what is happening. Lighting is a very traditional technique used to create fear and was especially powerful in the 1931 movie were people were not use to the effects that the cinema could produce. The subtly of Brannagh's burning candle against the red wall is less dramatic in comparison to Whale's however this more contemporary approach perhaps lets the audience find their own interpretations to the more symbolic setting.

Updated: Apr 29, 2023
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A Multifaceted Analysis of Frankenstein's Narrative in James Whale's Film. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/james-whale-8557-new-essay

A Multifaceted Analysis of Frankenstein's Narrative in James Whale's Film essay
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