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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

It's Alive. 

Year: 1994 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Not content with bringing "Bram Stoker's Dracula" to the big screen, producer Francis Ford Coppola gets to grips with another gothic literary classic - "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein".

The monster this time is very much in the hands of Branagh, who bring it vividly back to life 180 years after Shelley first unleashed it upon the public.

As ever, the young Victor Frankenstein (Branagh) fails to look before he makes his scientific leap, obsessed with defeating death after his mother died in childbirth, Victor defies accusations of heresy and prodeeds in his struggle to create life out of death. After some cautious assistance from Professor Waldman (an excellent cameo performance from John Cleese) and fellow scholar Clerval, Frankenstein shuts himself away, increasingly horrified by the results of his experiments yet equally unable to escape from them, as a living corpse haunts the northern hemisphere seeking revenge from the the creator that failed in his responsibilities.

The film departs from previous incarnations of the legend in the greater focus on the tragic figure of the monster, where the casting of De Niro bestows the role with some much needed depth and emotional resonance. As he learns to communicate his thoughts, we are taken beyond his scarred appearance to see the alienated figure within, denied identity by a world that looks on with cruel eyes. Ironically, only a blind man (Richard Briers) has the clarity of vision to see beyond this facade.

Though essentially concerned with mortality, there are scenes where the humour and "joie de vivre" of Much Ado About Nothing surges onto the screen. While the film's brilliant photography ensures that it's consistently stylish and beautiful to look at, whether it's sweeping alpine landscapes and glacial caves, or equally the elaborate gothic laboratory, where Frankenstein's science and the elements of nature blend in a triumph of set design, combining imagery of both industrial technology and the strikingly organic, typified by De Niro's memorable "birth" sequence.

Altogether an unmissable gothic feast with something for everyone, horror, drama, romance, a wealth of fine British actors, and of course the most worthy Bonham-Carter as Victor's much abused adopted sister and sweet-heart. As thematically relevant now as the day it was written, go see or miss out big-time!

Michael Williams

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Screenings of this film:

1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)
1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)
1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)
1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Summer Term (35mm)