Frankenstein (1931)

A classic horror film which, some of the excesses of its acting aside, still holds up pretty well today. A lot of its power comes from the excellent photography and set design, with some masterful use of the black-and-white to evoke a lost Europe of creepy castles and demon monsters. Karloff’s monster also embodies a rather touching hint at a grand theme of what it means to be human, and the struggle for outsiders within society, though none of this is really forced. The director James Whale would go onto the somewhat more self-consciously campy Bride of Frankenstein, and it’s this tradition that later takes on the story (like Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein) would play on. But James Whale’s original is the first and the best.

Frankenstein film posterCREDITS
Director James Whale; Writers Francis Edward Faragoh and Garrett Fort (based on the play by Peggy Webling, itself based on the novel by Mary Shelley); Cinematographer Arthur Edeson; Starring Colin Clive, Boris Karloff, Mae Clarke; Length 71 minutes.
Seen at home (Blu-ray), London, Wednesday 3 June 2015.

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