Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) - Jack Smight

Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)
Director: Jack Smight
Writers: Don Bachardy, Christopher Isherwood, Mary Shelley (Novel)
Starring: James Mason, Leonard Whiting, David McCallum, Jane Seymour, Nicola Pagett, Michael Sarrazin, Michael Wilding, Agnes Moorehead

When I first started watching Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) I was hoping for a story that would be more faithful to Mary Shelley's novel. The story of Frankenstein has been told many times on film but none of these films had stayed very close to the story of the original novel. This isn't really a bad thing but I was hoping to see an adaptation that was both interesting and true to the novel.

Twenty minutes into the film I had realized that it was going to take just as many liberties with the story that all other adaptations had done. The difference with this adaptation though is that the changes made would not be the least bit interesting. At a very early point in the story I could already tell that the changes made would be rather pointless. They were not done to make the story more cinematic as they were in Frankenstein (1931), they seemed to be changed for the sole purpose of making the story more convoluted.

Characters in this version of the story are completely different than they are in the book. Victor isn't even the main driving force trying to create life in this film. Henry Clerval, Victor's best friend who has nothing to do with creating the creature in the novel, is the character most obsessed with creating life in this version of the story. There is even a point in the film where Victor refers to Henry as the brains of their partnership. I can not think of any reason for this change and in my opinion it takes a lot away from the story of Dr. Frankenstein.

I am not a fan of the changes made to the creature in this version of the story either. He is not anything like the creature that Mary Shelley had envisioned. I don't want to give too much away about the film but the creatures evolution from gentle creature to monster is nothing like it is in the original story. In this version he is not shunned by Victor, in fact Victor does his best to educate the creature as best as he can. When creature begins to look ugly (he is attractive when first created and slowly begins to deform in this film) he decides for himself that he will not fit in with society and run out on his own. It seems like the writers of this version of the story had no respect at all for Mary Shelley's work.

From that point on the film begins to deviate more and more from the original source material. Normally I don't have a problem with a film changing the story from its source material but in this case I do. It would seem from the title that this film would try to stay closer to the source material but the writers seem to have no interest in that at all.

On top of how much the film deviated from the source material, it is overall just an uninteresting film. I did not care enough about any of the characters to be invested in anything that happened to them in the film. Victor was changed so much that the dynamic that normally exists between him and his creation is non-existent. The story told in the film is just dull, as is most of the acting and the directing. With a three hour run time the film just ends up being ridiculously hard to sit through.

Rating: 4/10

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