Film / Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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It's Alive.

The Creature: Did you ever consider the consequences of your actions? You made me, and you left me to die. Who am I?
Victor Frankenstein: You? I don't know.
The Creature: And you think that I am evil.

The 1994 film version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is directed by Kenneth Branagh, who stars along with Robert De Niro. In contrast to Bram Stoker's Dracula, this is actually much closer to the original novel, although many new elements were still added to the story.

At the turn of the 19th century, a ship searching for a route to the North Pole encounters a man wandering the ice. Nearing death, the man says his name is Victor Frankenstein, and he relates a story to the captain explaining how his attempts to play God and reverse Death caused the destruction of his entire world.


This film contains examples of the following Tropes:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Justine's character is developed a little further. And then there's a little subplot about reviving Elizabeth.
  • And Show It to You: Though in this case, The Creature actually goes through with his threat and rips out Elizabeth's heart.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Justine's corpse still looks very good after it's been buried for a week or so.
    • Averted big time with Elizabeth when she's killed - her face is horribly burned and most of her hair is gone.
  • Big "NO!": About a dozen or so.
  • Cassandra Truth: Waldman begs Victor to give up on creating life as his own experiments ended in "abominations". Victor has to find out he was right the hard way.
  • Cool Guns: Frankenstein, when riding to meet The Creature on the mountain, packs a pepperbox rifle.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Waldman who dabbled in experiments similar to Victor's the results of which left a stain on his reputation and made him a more humbled man.
  • Driven to Suicide: Elizabeth, after finding out what she is.
  • Faking the Dead: Multiple times, thanks to how the creature looks.
  • Fastball Special: The Creature fends off an angry mob this way.
  • Foreshadowing: Waldman's experiment with the monkey's arm is an eerie foretelling to the Creature's supernatural strength.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: The movie is set in the late 18th century. Cross with The Dung Ages - unlike pre-1990s films set in a clean and idealized version of the 17th-18th centuries, it shows plainly the dirt and grime of everyday life.
  • Idiot Ball: Waldman grabs it firmly by keeping his research into creating life instead of destroying it.
  • Ironic Echo: "Raw materials. Nothing more."
  • Kill It with Fire: More like, Kill Yourself With Fire. Elizabeth is not happy with being resurrected by Victor.
  • Kubrick Stare: Branagh films himself glowering at Cleese's Professor Waldman from under his lowered brow as he insists that he can succeed where his mentor has failed.
  • Large Ham: Synonomous with Kenneth Branagh.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: From Sega Pinball, released in 1995. Click here for details.
  • Made of Explodium: Frankenstein Manor. When a flaming Elizabeth runs through it, everything around her inexplicably explodes.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Although not the usual hammy bombastic type, Victor's not entirely psychologically stable.
    • Dr. Waldman was one but he gave up his experiments because they resulted in "abominations". Unfortunately he made the mistake of keeping his notes. Which become the basis of Victor's experiments how to create life.
  • Mistaken for Dying: Originally Victor thinks the Creature died after being "born". Later after it escapes he assumes it will die of cholera.
  • Mix-and-Match Man: Justified. The main body used was of a crippled man.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table/Necromantic: After The Creature kills Elizabeth, Victor immediately sets out to revive her. It works, but she quickly kills herself when she realizes what she has become.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Granted, Elizabeth was adopted when Victor was just a little boy. Still, when they're kissing passionately as adults, they both admit that even if they were blood related, they would still love each other.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Branagh banned the word "Monster" from being used on the set, and instead insisted everyone refer to De Niro's character as the "Sharp Featured Man".
  • Of Corsets Sexy: AKA the "Helena Bonham Carter special!"
  • Oh Crap!: When Victor realizes that his journal (with his name and hometown in it) was in the pocket of the coat The Creature took.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • The Creature initially takes refuge in a poor family's barn, and harvests their crops at night. He even saves a blind old man from being beaten.
    • Victor attempts to Pet the Dog by promising to build a female companion for The Creature, but instead runs off to marry his sister.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film takes a part of the book that was often considered a wasted opportunity ( Victor using the tech that created the monster to revive Elizabeth) and changed it to make it a more emotional eerie part of the movie.
  • Psycho Electric Eel: What Frankenstein uses to animate The Creature, rather than lightning. How he got them in the middle of Switzerland is anyone's guess.
  • Shirtless Scene: Victor's preferred method of doing lab work.
  • Shown Their Work: In order to talk more like a person re-learning to speak, De Niro studied recovering stroke victims.
  • Soulless Shell: It seem that's what happens to Elizabeth at first, though moments later she regains at least part of her consciousness and commits suicide. Read Mummies at the Dinner Table/Necromantic above.
  • Slow Electricity: Electricity is always visible as tiny lightning bolts marching along wires.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Henry is murdered in the book by the Creature shortly before Victor and Elizabeth's wedding. Here his fate is left open, as he's last seen inside Victor's house before it burns down (though there's plenty of chance for him to escape).
    • Subverted with Elizabeth. She's killed on her wedding night as in the book. Victor temporarily revives her, but she commits suicide after seeing what she is.
  • Truer to the Text: The intent was to make a more faithful adaptation of the book than previous films had been (hence the In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It title). It has its own quirks, though.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Whatever happened to Henry? The last time we saw him is him doing a Big "NO!" as Victor's revving up his Reanimatormatic, and then....we just leave him there in the burning house.
  • What Have I Done: Victor's reaction to seeing The Creature alive.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: You can't really blame The Creature for being the way it is. There's a moment during the Creature's escape where it's hiding in an alley. It picks up a piece of fur cloth and begins to stroke it nervously in terror, giving it such a child-like and tragic innocence.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Elizabeth gets especially mad when Victor says "I promise" one too many times.
    "Oh don't you dare use that word on me. You promised you were finished with this work, you promised to tell me who this man is...your promises don't mean anything!"

This film averts the following tropes common to most Frankenstein movies:

  • Hulk Speak: The creature learns to speak properly rather quickly.
  • The Igor: Frankenstein for the most part works alone.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Victor experiments with a lightning rod, but finds an easier way on conducting the necessary electricity.


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