Frankenstein DVD Review

Shelley’s tale of our relationship between science and religion and the reckless follies of man has been plundered on scores and scores of occasions.

The re-release of this made-for-television two-part piece is ripe for reconsideration 10 years on from first broadcast. A wealth of big names are associated with this version, including Donald Sutherland and William Hurt. Despite attracting close to top billing on the credits, Julie Delpy is sadly marginalised in a very minor role, playing Victor Frankenstein’s mother.

If there is any real need to recap a story so well-known and recognisable, then the merest of overviews will be done here. Victor Frankenstein is a budding scientist of considerable wealth and sizeable ambition. Upon departing the family estate for a university study in the town of Ingolstadt, he excels at the sciences. After witnessing an oak tree struck by lightning, he is inspired to harness the natural order and raise life out of that which is dead. Soon, he welcomes into the world his creation; a man constructed and stitched together. Aghast and appalled by his own handiwork, he rejects the creature’s advances for support and love. And so, a monster is born.

frankenstein, luke goss, the creature, mary shelley

In a refreshing twist, this version opted to forego the caricatured bolt-headed creature of the like of Boris Karloff’s infamous depiction. The creature, played adeptly by Luke Goss, is lank haired, mysterious, yet also articulate.

The cinematography offers some beautiful scene-setting; the gothic buildings, the frozen arctic and the horse and cart strewn streets are wonderfully evocative. As you would expect, the prophetic fallacies are writ and writ large. This is welcome in something as gloriously atmospheric as this, as mist, snow, lightning and wild rain signal endless portent and foreboding.

Where there is fault, it lies in the swelling strings and plangent piano key-strokes that persist relentlessly as a soundtrack throughout the whole feature. The lack of reprieve becomes a frustrating distraction. It is over the top and unnecessary.

Ultimately, it is a pleasure to be reminded that this is a faithful account of the novel. At long last, a version exists where justice is done to the source. There is a sincere intent to stray very little from Mary Shelley’s vision. The themes thrown up by the wonderful premise and narrative remain subject of school classrooms and discussions the world over. The law of nature and of God incongruously rub against the voracious ego of man. Ambition itself can be the true monster that cannot be bottled. This DVD release is a welcome presence, offering a version that deserves a recognised place amongst the best of the gothic literature adaptations.

About The Author

Having upped sticks and marched down the A13 from Essex into the smog of London, Greg can be found ranting and raging as the Film Correspondent on the Jon Gaunt Show from time to time and also on his weekly 'The Film Review' podcast (plug alert - available on iTunes and Audioboom). Aside from Front Row Reviews, he also scribbles regularly for HeyUGuys. Lowlights, thus far, have been John Hurt scolding with the question 'do you really think like that?', upsetting acclaimed filmmaker Ondi Timoner with his piece for the Sunday Mirror and falling out with the blog editor of the Huffington Post. Oh, and he did bring Liv Ullmann to tears (but in a good way... more of a highlight, that one). He can also be found writing on theatre and music for the Islington Gazette, Ham & High, Hackney Gazette, Bargain Theatre, SupaJam and others. He's often moaning about how tired he is, and he's a frustrated musician.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.