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Film: Frankenstein (1931)
" You have created a monster and it will destroy you!"

Henry Frankenstein: Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!
Victor Moritz: Henry, in the name of God!
Henry Frankenstein: Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!

Frankenstein is a 1931 horror film produced by Universal Studios and directed by James Whale, based very loosely on Mary Shelley's classic novel of the same name. It immortalized Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein's Monster.

Along with Karloff, it stars Colin Clive as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, Mae Clarke as his fiancée Elizabeth, Dwight Frye as Fritz and Edward Van Sloan as Dr. Waldman.

Here's a quick summary:

Obsessed with creating life, Dr. Frankenstein robs bodies with the help of his hunchbacked assistant Fritz and sews the best pieces together. After the legendary creation scene, he finds out from his old college professor, Dr. Waldman that the brain he used on the creature is in fact a criminal brain and is convinced that it should be destroyed. However, it escapes and starts wreaking havoc in the countryside, prompting the local townsfolk to grab torches and pitchforks and chase it down.

Frankenstein was followed by a series of sequels, most notably Bride of Frankenstein in 1935 and Son of Frankenstein in 1939.

Frankenstein's Monster is also one of the 8 Major Universal Monsters.

This film is alive with the following:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Victor Frankenstein and Henry Clerval switch first names in the film.
  • Anachronism Stew: Intended by James Whale, who fostered for this and Bride of Frankenstein a sort of Alternate Universe which mixed deliberately and freely the aesthetics of the early 1800s (the time that Mary Shelley wrote the original novel) and the '30s.
  • And Call Him George: The childlike monster, while innocently playing with a little girl, gets too enthusiastic and throws her in the river, where she drowns. This was considered so disturbing in the 1930s that the scene was cut right as the Creature is reaching for the girl, skipping to her father carrying her dead body. This made the implications of the scene much worse.
  • Artistic License - Physics: Frankenstein claims that his big scientific breakthrough came when he discovered a form of radiation higher in the spectrum than "the ultraviolet ray", thus proving that ultraviolet was not "the highest color in the spectrum". "Ultraviolet" is neither a color nor a specific type of ray—it's an umbrella term for all forms of radiation that are of too high a frequency to be visible (i.e. "higher than violet", since violet is the highest visible frequency of light). A form of radiation "higher than ultraviolet" is a contradiction in terms.
  • Ascended Extra: Dr. Waldman. In the novel, he only appeared in one chapter, his primary purpose to spark Frankenstein's interest in science. The film, he becomes sort of a mentor to the doctor, and tries in vain) to help stop the monster.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Fritz, who kept tormenting the Monster for his own amusement by whipping him and sticking a torch at his face. The Monter eventually has enough of it and hangs him.
    • Also, Dr. Waldman. Though he promised Henry he'd kill the Monster "painlessly", it's shown he's actually just keeping the Monster sedated so he can vivisect him. The Monster promptly wakes up and strangles Waldman.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Henry's "Now I know what it feels like to be God!", which drew so much ire in its time from Christians that it had to be cut.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Edward Van Sloan's "friendly warning" before the opening credits.
  • Character as Himself: Boris Karloff is credited as "?"
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: The reason for the existence of Victor in the film as, in the original cut, Henry had been killed.
  • Dead Unicorn Trope: Frankenstein's hunchbacked assistant in the movie is named Fritz, not Igor. And he had no assistant, hunchbacked or otherwise, in the book.
  • Death by Adaptation: Dr. Waldman.
  • Grave Robbing: The film opens on Henry and Fritz hiding next to a burial, and stealing the corpse once the grave digger leaves. Henry later claims that it was just one of the many.
  • Instant Sedation: An early example, where the (very large and very angry) Creature is brought down with a single (likewise very large) injection in the back.
  • It's Going Down: This trope probably started with the windmill that the mob sets on fire.
  • Kill It with Fire: The movie ends with the Monster trapped in a burning windmill.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Key component of bringing the monster to life is raising its operating table to the roof, where it receives lightning strikes. However, unlike some other versions, this happens offscreen.
  • Mix-and-Match Man: The Monster is made up of various spare parts from stolen corpses.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: One of the most major ways the film departs from novel. In Shelley's book, nurture is why the monster became evil. He only wanted friends, and the world treated him horribly for his appearance.. In the film, nature is why he's evil. He has the brain of a notorious criminal.
  • Oh Crap: The look on Henry's face after Dr. Waldman tells him he used a criminal's brain in his experiment.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Shout-Out: Henry Frankenstein isn't quite an Expy, but his theatrics definitely bring to mind Nikola Tesla's Large Ham tendencies.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Elizabeth and Victor in the final cut. And the monster as it turns out. Also Henry Clerval (or Victor as he's called in this film.)
  • They Called Me Mad!:
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Oh Fritz, stealing the brain of a notorious criminal because you ruined the good brain that was originally planned to use? What could possible go wrong? And then haplessly bullying the monster, who is much stronger and more powerful than you? Did someone take your brain too?
    • A case could be made that this trope extends to every named character in the film.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Once Monster attacks Elizabeth and his previous victim is brought into the town, a search party carrying torches is organized to hunt him down.
  • Überwald: The film is set around Germanic countryside.

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