Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Bride of Frankenstein
Released four years after James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) - which, admittedly, I have not seen yet - the film picks up exactly where its predeccesor left off. The Monster (Boris Karloff) survives the burning windmill and is soon roaming wild in the countryside, trying to prove he is not a cold-blooded killer, while escaping a vigilante mob. Meanwhile, Dr Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is forced against his will to once again create life in the form of a bride (Elsa Lanchester) for his monster, by his old tutor Dr Pretorious (Ernest Thesiger).
This time, Karloff creates within the Monster a gentle, loving soul, who only attacks out of fear and the need to defend himself. Trapped in a body he hates, and that everyone fears (his own 'Bride' screams in fear and hysterics when they first meet), Karloff creates a performance full of pathos. The Monster's need to be loved and prove he isn't a cold-blooded killer is so heartfelt and full of pathos that fearing this 'Monster' is impossible. The friendship he develops with an old, blind hermit (O.P. Heggie) halfway through the film is so heartwarming, as both are overjoyed to have found a friend at last; and amusing, as the hermit not only teaches him some basic speech, but how to smoke cigars and appreciate wine also; thanks to two very heartfelt performances, a real sense of chemistry and bond between the two, and excellent comic timing and expression on Karloff's part.
The rest of the cast is also excellent. Clive is such a driven scientist and makes Frankenstein's determination to never again create life (until he has no other choice) so powerful, and the character's regret and upset over the previous film's tragic events so deep and meaningful. Thesiger makes Pretorious an almost real evil scientist, so convincing and spine-tingling. Another really memorable cast member is Una O'Connor as Frankenstein's sharp-tongued maid, who is unafraid to speak her mind, thanks to O'Connor's top-notch comic timing and delivery.
As for the film's artistic quality, Karloff's Monster retains that beautifully and intricately designed makeup, that is so eye-catching, and which the Monster wouldn't be the same without. Pretorious's lab is designed to look like the perfect lair for an evil/mad scientist, in that signature style, which has been reused in numerous monster/horror films since - most recently in Van Helsing (2004). The titular Bride's design - human except for tall black hair with large white streaks - has since become so iconic that even online game Farmville featured it in their Exclusive Halloween Decorations last month.
Truly this film is not only a piece of art, but an all-time classic film (in my view at least). Beautifully designed and intricately created from start to finish, it is a tragic, yet heartwarming story that managed to spawn a sequel (Son of Frankenstein) in 1939, and has an indescribable essence/feel to it, that I doubt any other Frankenstein film ever has or ever will capture.
Stars: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Ernest Thesiger, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester, Una O'Connor, O.P. Heggie, Dwight Frye, Ted Billings, Douglas Walton, Gavin Gordon, Reginald Barlow, Mary Gordon, Lucian Privell, E.E. Clive.
Oscar nomination: Best Sound Mixing (Gilbert Kurland).