Frankie & Fritz – crime fighters of the sea!

Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 7:34 pm Comments (1)

I watched Frankenstein a couple of nights ago; the old 1931 version.

Everyone knows this story. Do we even need a summary? Dude wants to create a functioning human being with science, and then the monster gets a bit uppity and eventually they both die. Bada bing.

For a film over eighty years old, it’s held up remarkably well, at least in the visual design. I think it’s hard to top Boris Karlov’s monster, and Colin Clive is a really, really rad Dr. Frankenstein, at least if you like having the ‘stark raving mad’ aspect played up . It’s a pity the guy died like six years after the film was made, as Clive has such a distinctive look that I feel he could’ve gotten a cult following in later years. Or maybe that’s just me.

It’s kind of interesting watching this and comparing it to other ‘early’ horror movies I’ve seen, particularly Nosferatu and Creature From The Black Lagoon. Music is a vital part of those two, particularly for Nosferatu since it hasn’t any spoken dialogue at all, while Creature practically sledge hammers music in your ears when it wants to set the mood (you could probably see the Creature shopping at Asda and that bloody ‘terror’ music would still be playing). Frankenstein has absolutely no mood music whatsoever; outside of the opening and closing credits there are no music cues to try and set the scene. The stark and unfriendly atmosphere carries the film by itself, and the absence of music really boosts it along. I don’t know if I’ve blogged about it before, but I’ve always wondered how different movies would be if you dropped all the music. I mean, Star Wars relies so much on it to imply “look, this is whimsical!” or “watch out for this dude, he’s a bad guy!” that if you removed all the music… well, who knows. Would be interesting to see, though.

The monster himself is a very tragic character, although I imagine the producers back in the day didn’t fully intend for it. Yes, the monster has a “criminal brain”, but he doesn’t wake up and immediately think, “I know, let’s strangle the shit out of everyone in sight!” The only reason he acts out against his masters is because Fritz, the hunchbacked assistant, is a real nasty piece of work who takes pleasure in threatening him with fire, and it seems Frankenstein and the professor are just itching to snuff the poor guy the moment he acts out of line. And when you can’t even rest in the dungeon for some peace and quiet without a hunchback waving a flaming torch in front of your face, you can’t blame him for being grouchy. The reason he kills is because that’s the only way he knows how to solve his problems; it’s not like Franky and Fritz ever tried interacting with him any other way. Let’s face it, the monster is practically like a big baby (with better listening skills) in the body of a 7 foot tall power house; you don’t try and set fire to a newborn the moment it kicks aside its breakfast. Then again, maybe they did in 1930s Germany?

I’ve still got Bride of Frankenstein to watch, so… well, I’ve no expectations, but it sounds like it’ll be an intriguing watch.

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