When trying to come up with a Throwback Thursday this week, I couldn’t help but think back to my college days. I studied film, like most unemployed people today. We used to have evening screenings where we would watch your textbook films (you know, your ‘Battleship Potemkin’, everything by Georges Melies, that one about that newspaper magnate…). One of these films we were required to watch was ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’
To this day, the movie still lingers in my subconscious, maybe because I look like the Bride of Frankenstein every morning when I wake up. (Am I right, ladies?)
‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ is one of Carl Laemmle Jr’s Universal Monster pics released in 1935. Boris Karloff returns as the Monster, who now has the speech of a ten-year old and a little more fat in his cheeks. Colin Clive returns as Frankenstein and actress Elsa Lanchester plays the Monster’s eponymous love interest. James Whale also returns as the film’s director.
The film is regarded as one of the greatest horror flicks of all time. It’s one of the few sequels that many film historians feel is better than its original. The film has a remarkable use of chiaroscuro lighting and includes a wonderful juxtaposition with elegant shots of a monster. Film school aside, if you’re a fan of camp, you’ll love the ridiculous performance of Una O’Connor as the servant, Minnie.
The film opens with Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, sitting amidst a beautiful thunderstorm. A glamorous Mary Shelley decides to tell her comrades her original ending to the story of Frankenstein and his monster (which is actually based upon a subplot in the novel).
Contrary to what we thought from the ending of ‘Frankenstein’, no one is dead. Frankenstein’s monster actually survives the fire and Frankenstein was just taking a death-like snooze.
Easy justification. I’m totally on board.
Frankenstein’s former mentor, Dr. Pretorius, visits his mentee saying that he too has unlocked the secret to life. Although renouncing his creation, Frankenstein is intrigued and agrees to partner with Pretorius. After escaping into the woods, saving a young girl, and befriending a blind man (a scene famously parodied in ‘Young Frankenstein’), the Monster crosses paths with Pretorius who promises to make him a Mrs. Monster.
Pretorius and the Monster approach Frankenstein who refuses to assist his former creation. However, once the Monster kidnaps the (technically actual) bride of Frankenstein, Elizabeth, Frankenstein has no choice but to help.
And then, Frankenstein is at it again! What he creates is arguably the most alluring film monster of all time. Notice how perfect the Bride’s makeup looks when the she is awakened for the first time. Seriously, who is her eyebrow artist?
Yes, the Bride is only in one fabulously orchestrated scene that leads to the film’s emotional conclusion. However, the movie isn’t about her. This movie is about the monster coming to terms with being a monster and trying to make some semblance of a happy life. Clearly, having two mad scientists create another monster to force into loving you is the key to happiness.
At least, this is what I took away from the film.
Oh, I forgot to mention, I didn’t do too well in film school…