The Strange Life of Dr. Frankenstein @ FIFA

Though it has become part of pop culture and literary lore, Frankenstein’s monster is filled with plenty of misconceptions and misrepresentations. It is up to films like this one to clear things up and educate. While at the same time entertain.

Jean Proment’s (French television series documentaries) film, in both English and French, sets out to set the record straight on a few things about Mary Shelley and her literary creation. Published almost 200 years ago the novel was written by Mary Shelley and is looked at as one of the pioneering works of the science fiction genre. It has caught on with fans of that genre along with those of horror, mystery and literature in general. It tapped into human curiousity about life and death.

Brit Mary Shelley left her family home at the young age of 16 when she ran away with her love, the poet Percy Shelley, to France. To entertain themselves the Shelleys and their friends delighted in trying to scare one another with ghost stories. In that end, a contest was come up with where each one of them would write a ghost story or the like and they would be judged as to who wrote the best one. Mary, a burgeoning writer, was having trouble coming up with one and then one night it came to her in a revery – a vision of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster.

Out poured a story about a young, handsome medical student named Victor Frankenstein. He is studying to become a surgeon, but is really interested in the creation of life. Out of this comes an idea…an idea that seems rather macabre and mad. He aims to assemble a complete human being from parts from different bodies finding those parts in graveyards. Using electricity he would bring the constructed body to life. Reanimation.

The backstory to this and where her idea sprung from could be due to the fact that she had ungone the tragic loss of a child. Would explain a desire to bring the dead back to life for Mary. Became fascinated by that moment where you could spark life into being. Also, around this time in 1810 electricity was coming into being a reality as was organ transplants.

In ways that the story reflected her own life was that the creature was seen as being created without a mother and then being rejected by its father. Just like Mary. Her mother, the writer/feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, had died giving birth to her and her father had rejected her after her falling in love with Shelley.

When it first came out, no one read the novel. It was not until 1823 when it was made into a play when people started paying attention. Then its popularity grew steadily. Mary succeeded in creating a modern myth.

Proment shows great restraint in his delivery of this woman and her piece of literature’s stories. Clocking in at under an hour we never grow weary or start looking at our watch. Things are kept moving with a rather artistic flair to the who procedings

Still today people are obsessed with the story. The story of a man being able to create life. Is it the power? Is it the possibility of eternal life? Is it a reliance upon science for the answer? Whatever the reason humans love this story. So much so that it has been adapted on the stage, in film or in television many, many times. In many different forms and interpretations.


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