Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein Movie Review…………………………………………………

Frankenstein Movie Review

Frankenstein is a 1931 horror film directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff and Colin Clive. It is such a terrific movie that is one of the best of its genre.

This film is interesting for being very different from the original novel. Not a lot of the plot points here bare any similarity to Mary Shelley’s work and the second half in particular is very much a story of its own. And although that was a bit problematic as I would have liked for the two to have been a bit more similar, I still liked this choice for the most part as it also led to a much more engaging story. And truly, in my opinion at least, this film surpasses the book.

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Look! It’s moving. It’s alive! It’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!

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Frankenstein Movie Review…………………………………………………

I loved the creation sequence, that is of course such an iconic scene by now with its iconic line “It’s alive!” being instantly recognizable. But I liked the visuals and the presentation of watch tower and every scene in it was a winner. Of course, the sequence in which the monster accidentally kills the girl by drowning her is amazing. It is easy to see why it was so controversial back in its day as it is a bit unexpected, especially having in mind that it was accidental and that the monster was good to the girl before. The execution of that whole scene is marvelous and it is such a memorable point in the movie.

The monster trying to kill Elizabeth is also a good scene and naturally that last act is fantastic. The peasants search for the monster in the mountains carrying torches and that mob mentality is so well established here. The use of the old mill is amazing and again a highly memorable set in the movie. And I liked the ending too.

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Frankenstein Movie Review…………………………………………………

Frankenstein’s character is faithfully brought to the screen and I loved his initial mad scientist persona, but how we eventually saw how strong his scientific drive is and how he felt bad for the wretched thing that he created. Elizabeth is somewhat forgettable and all of the others don’t get much to do, but the monster himself is excellent, visually interesting, tragic and overall very well depicted. The performance from Boris Karloff is an iconic one for all the good reasons as he is great in this role and I also liked Colin Clive’s performance quite a bit.

Frankenstein isn’t without its detractors. The first act is a bit slow and ultimately forgettable. Also, the film isn’t scary and it even should even been a bit more atmospheric. But the biggest problem is its theatricality as some parts are way too over-the-top, mostly some of the action scenes as well as the monster’s snarls which annoyed me.

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Frankenstein Movie Review…………………………………………………

But apart from those three flaws, the film is mostly excellent and it is undoubtedly one of the finest movies of 1931 and one of the best horror films ever made, it certainly should belong on any best horror movie list.

James Whale’s direction is splendid, but the film is also surprisingly well edited and paced. It lasts for just about 70 minutes which is just enough for this story and it is never rushed and is always riveting and very exciting to watch. The structure of the movie is great and in terms of storytelling, it is excellent owing to a superb script.

Frankenstein’s cinematography is mesmerizing! Everything here is absolutely gorgeous to behold. The camera movements are great, the imagery is so memorable and the atmosphere is mostly really well conveyed through some effective black-and-white photography and sets. Those sets are all around magnificent as both the mill and the watch tower are instantly recognizable. The attention to detail is evident and the picture is just a feast for the eyes.

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Frankenstein Movie Review…………………………………………………

It isn’t all that sophisticating as it trades the book’s thematically rich substance for spectacle, but I liked that choice as it fits the film’s sensibilities more. But the film isn’t stupid as it is mostly very realistic and I liked how this creation myth was presented.

The sound effects are very good as is the dialogue and the film’s emotional tone. The monster is portrayed as a tragic figure and there were some truly poignant moments to be had here. But what I liked most about the film is just how unforgettable and influential it is and its importance is evident in almost every scene. It is such a classic horror film for the ages and I loved it both times I saw it.

Frankenstein is such a classic horror film that is instantly memorable and so influential. It is a bit too theatrical at times, but its characters are very well portrayed, the atmosphere is strongly conveyed and the visuals are just magnificent with awesome and instantly recognizable sets. It has an abundance of unforgettable sequences with the creation scene, the girl drowning and the final action sequence being the finest. It is a thoroughly enjoyable, phenomenally crafted film that is one of this genre’s best.

My Rating – 4.5

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Posted in 1930s, FILM DECADES, Horror, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , , .

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