Some Thoughts on Frankenstein

Let’s talk about Frankenstein by Mary Shelley for just a minute here. Is that cool with you? Have you read it? This was my second time reading it. It’s one of those books that floored me, and I wasn’t expecting it at all. I never even liked the old movies. They were silly. But the book…wow…even on my second read it was a page turner. I could see a whole movie playing out in my mind as I read.

Once again, the book is better. And I’m not one to poo-poo movies based on books. I love them, especially now with the streaming limited series format. But every Frankenstein movie I’ve seen is like they took a few of the characters and made an entirely different story with it. The last time I came across something this bad was when I read Cheaper by the Dozen to my kids. That book was wonderful and brought us all to tears, but then we watched the movie. There is a man with a dozen kids. That’s the only thing that is the same. Why? It was an amazing story!

My sweet husband found Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the one with Kenneth Branagh, thinking maybe it would be closer to the original story and it was, but it still didn’t do it justice. I did a search for all the Frankenstein movies that have been done and found a list on IMDb. It looks like there was a series started in 2004 but they only did two episodes and quit.

I recently watched I, Frankenstein and thought the monster character was much closer to the original concept of the book, but it was a different setting. I liked the movie, corny but an interesting story.

Something to think about… The alternate title or subtitle to the original story is The Modern Prometheus. Why? I never understood that until now. I read the introduction in this edition and read this:

“The creature is a noble savage, loving and humanistic until driven to murder by human cruelty. The scientist, representing the values of his culture, emerges as egocentric and irresponsible – a failed “New Prometheus.” His obsessive quest for power leads to his own and his creature’s moral and physical destruction, symbolizing a central dilemma of the early nineteenth century: how will the dawning age establish moral values that keep pace with rabidly changing technological advances and political ideologies?”

Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818, nearly two hundred years ago, and here we are struggling with the same issues. Couldn’t someone create a modern Frankenstein, one that reflects our own culture? I’d love to see that. And I’d love to the original story with the history of the time woven into it. Maybe we’d learn something, mainly that we aren’t living in “unprecedented times” after all.  

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