Some time ago, I asked me why the story of Frankenstein generated so many adaptations in the cinema, in the literature, etc. I think that it’s the feeling of culpability, the tragic destiny of Frankenstein which touches the most the readers.
So, when I discovered the sequel of Frankenstein by James Whale at home, I decided to look at it. This sequel, untitled « The Bride of Frankenstein », was released in 1935, four years after the first film (« Frankenstein »).
The romantic and the gothic dimensions are palpable in this adaptation. The first scene is consacrated to the presentation of the author and her cercle. Mary Shelley is showed as a rich and an elegant woman, dressed in white. Outside, the wind is blowing, the thunder is rumbling and the rain is beating against the windows. These elements are typical of the Romanticism and the Gothic. Moreover, a man in the room says : « That is the Romanticism, outside the elements are unchained, and we contemplate them peacefully ».
Mary Shelley answers that she is afraid by the thunderstorm, but her friend Lord Byron laughs and remembers her that she wrote a horrible story which deals with corpses and monsters.
That’s how the film begins : Lord Byron tells the story aloud to his friends, and the spectator follows it with his narrative.This narrative starts with the symbolic picture of a fire : the inhabitants of the village want to burn the monster (hidden in some ruins) because they think that he killed Frankenstein. But after a moment, the monster and its creator (Henry Frankenstein) wake up and surprise all the inhabitants.
In this film, the gothic atmosphere made a deep impression on me. There are many candles, a lot of fires… even the architecture of the buildings is really gothic. Of course, the black and white emphasizes this dimension.
There are some differences between this adaptation and the Kenneth Branagh’s one.(1994) : Henry Frankenstein collaborates with his teacher after creating the monster, and the beginning of the film is different (Frankenstein isn’t on a boat, and doesn’t tell his story to a stranger). Then the relation betwenn the creature and the old blind man is more touching : for instance, the monster even cries at a moment.
Finally, the creature is more human than monster, compared to the others films. It can be seen on the following picture :
Promotional photo of Boris Karloff from The Bride of Frankenstein as Frankenstein’s monster, Wikimédia Commons.