Modern Prometheus Vs Frankenstein

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When exploring Shelley’s novel and how its themes can be maintained when transported to film, there is an extremely important problem that every screenwriter and producer must overcome: the novel doesn’t ever visualise Frankenstein’s monster, instead briefly summarising its appearance. The horror and repulsion that the creature evokes stems from each character’s reaction to its visage, rather than the visage itself - such as Victor’s account of its creation, where ‘now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.’ \footcite{Mary Shelley, 'Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus' Ch. 5 pp. 50} As James Heffernan points out, ‘A faithful recreation of the novel’s central narrative… would…show more content…
The difficulty lies within the fact that they can stimulate a form of fear that creates similar reactions toward it by the film’s characters, but this is at the expense of simplifying Frankenstein’s monster and reducing it to a generic creature trope. There is a distinct physicality present in the film adaptations that is not present in Shelley’s novel, to the point where the creature’s cerebral aspects are pushed to one side. As Lavalley puts it, ‘The book may gradually present us with a fully formed human psyche whose feelings, yearnings and logic are often more profound than those who reject its outward husk, but the stage and film must fix that outward appearance from the very start.’ \footcite{Albert J. Lavalley, 'The Endurance of Frankenstein', pp. 249} To achieve this, humanity has to be integrated via the visualisation of Frankenstein, as with Branagh’s version, or by a sympathetic performance that directly contradicts the creature’s horrifying exterior, as with Karloff’s rendition. The same applies to the horrifying nature of the creature’s appearance however, and so a fine balance needs to be struck between terror and implied benevolence, a feat that no filmic adaptation has managed to achieve. Yet despite this inherent need to visualise Frankenstein on screen, many critics view the act as an innate betrayal of Shelley’s text, referring to the idea that the uncanny ‘is what one calls everything that should have stayed secret, hidden, latent, but has come to the fore’ \footcite{Sigmund Freud, 'The Uncanny', 1919}. The naysayers to this visualisation have well-argued points, such as the idea that ‘the physical representation on the stage or in the film...discourages such ambivalences’ \footcite{Albert J. Lavalley, 'The Endurance of Frankenstein', pp. 249} as the idea of what beauty should be regarded as, and whether a supposed monster can attain this beauty. Furthermore, the
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