Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Iconic Horror Scene: Frankenstein (1931)

"Its alive!!!" This is probably one of the most memorable scenes from the Universal Horror era. People often associate this scene with the Frankenstein monster even though it was nonexistant in Mary Shelley's novel. In the book it does not say how the creature was created. Basically every film version of Frankenstein involves the creature being created by electricity, which was a 100% Hollywood invention. Well, the awakened by electricity thing does make a lot more sense than what you see in the 1910 silent film version where he is sort of made like a soup or something.

Even though you do not see the creature without his bandages in this scene, you do get a sense of the great size of him. I don't know if it is actually Boris Karloff that you see lying on the table, but if I had to guess I would say that it was. It would certainly be easier to have him do it, than it would be to find another man of his height.

Then you see Dr. Frankensten and Fritz (the Igor type character) raise him into the lightning, then lower him after a while. Apparently the whole life-giving process isn't very long. Then comes the most memorable part of the scene.

One of my absolute favorite shots in any movie is the close-up of the creature's hand moving. Henry (it should be Victor!) sees that all of his hard work has been worth it, and he has successfully created a man. At this point he is not thinking about the consequences of his actions, or anything at all except for the fact that he has succeeded! He has toyed with the laws of nature and now "knows what it's like to be god!"

All subsequent adaptations of Mary Shelley's novel have been influenced by this film. This is no surprise since not only is this a great film, but it had also come up with a creative way to show how the creature came to be, which was not important in the novel. Instead of making up their own explanations, they just borrow from this film.

One of my favorite films that was influenced by this is actually a parody. Young Frankenstein is my favorite Mel Brooks film, and also features one of my favorite performances by Gene Wilder.

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