I am a huge fan of Kenneth Branagh. Not familiar with his work? *smiles* sure you are! Kenneth Branagh is Gilderoy Lockhart in the Harry Potter film! He’s the wizard who stops to smile at a a painting of himself painting a portrait of himself. But that man means so much more to me than the pompous Lockhart. He was also in Wild Wild West opposite Will Smith. But I first knew him from Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare. Since then, I followed everything Branagh does.
I adore Shakespeare, and Branagh does Shakespeare justice. I watched his Hamlet, his Much Ado about Nothing, his Othello. Oh! His performance of Iago was PHENOMENAL. Potter fans, want to see something weird!? Professor Trelawny was portrayed by the beautiful Emma Watson who played opposite Branagh in Much Ado About Nothing. It was weird going back and seeing “Lockhart” fall in love with “Trelawney.”
When Branagh released Frankenstein…I was all over that movie without question. Helena Bonham Carter stars. Hm…another Potter character. Wow…that’s…Bellatrix Lestrange and Lockhart…wow.
Okay, on topic. Branagh not only portrayed Doctor Frankenstein. He also directed it. And oh…what an eye-opener. No Igor. No castle. No stormy night, mad scientist, lab, in Transylvania. It was a scientist who turned to the science of biology with one thought. To stop death. Frankenstein began with such an obssession to stop death, then grew into a scientist with that goal. I didn’t see a mad man playing god. I saw a man unable to accept death. Just. Like. Me.
He went to college. Poured so much of himself into his studies that he fell ill. His cousin, Elizabeth came to see him. He adored her, but was obsessed. His goal consumed him. He contracted the plague and battled a fever that made him delusional. He located the corpse of his late professor, a genius and used his mind to create The Monster.
But his fever had settled in and Frankenstein fell unconscious. Elizabeth, knowing his condition, returned. She brought him home and cared for him. The Monster was left alone. Alone. You see what loneliness can do to a man. Truly this is the Monster’s bane. It is loneliness that corrupts the Monster in very much the same way his father—Doctor Frankenstein—was corrupted by grief.
Loneliness stirs a hatred within the Monster and he looks to sate his rage. So he kills. He hunts down his father who realizes his own obsession and has reformed. Weakened by his sickness, Doctor Frankenstein surrenders and gives up his obsession. He learns to live with Elizabeth and grows strong with love for his family.
But Frankstein bore a child, and abandoned him to loneliness. It is the Monster who seeks out the father and confronts him. What enfolds can only be likened to the dialogue exchanged between Clark Kent and his father Jor-el (Superman reference). So…so beautiful. In a cave by the sea the Monster confronts the father who abandoned him.
“I have such love for you. I also have such hate. Give me a bride so that I may sate my love, or I will be forced to sate my hate. Give me my bride and our wedding night, or I will be there on yours.”
Knowing the error of his ways, Frankenstein refuses the Monster’s request and, on the night of his wedding with his wife, Elizabeth, the Monster arrives and rips out her heart. The loss of Elizabeth forces Frankenstein to regress. Once more, he is unable to let go and accept death. Once more, Frankenstein revives the dead.
Elizabeth is re-animated, but the Monster arrives, claiming her for himself. Elizabeth, realizing the Monster she now is, kills herself, the lab, the house, the estate. All that is left is Frankenstein forced to confront his mistake. But the Monster runs and the Doctor pursues.
Frankenstein spoke to me on so many levels that only The Phantom of the Opera comes close to affecting me this deeply. I would love nothing more than to write a series of romances in this antiquated, Gothic style. Happily ever after? In my book, that comes with a price.