Saturday, 27 July 2013

Did you know that Frankenstein was based on a book?

Two big British actors have been announced for a new interpretation of Mary Shelley's gothic nightmare Frankenstein. Daniel Radcliffe was signed earlier this year, and now we have James McAvoy. The interesting stand point of this version is that it is told through the voice of Igor, Frankenstein's hunchbacked helper, who will be played by the young Radcliffe. Richee suggests that he'll be unconvincing, but I beg to differ. As much as I dislike the Harry Potter films, Radcliffe isn't afraid to push the perceived boundaries around him, appearing bollock naked in the stage production of Equus not long after Potter finished. He likes dressing up, so adding a hump to his back and taping his lower eye lids down wouldn't be a problem. James McAvoy will probably be a convincing Victor von Frankenstein, with all the madness and well meaning-ness, so a good pairing it could be. Of course, it is all down to the script. This version is penned by Max Landis, but considering his last film was the teenage-superpowers-struggle film Chronicle, which I thought slightly trite and silly, I'll hold onto my reservations for now. Landis has stated

"I began to pick apart our knowledge of Frankenstein and discovered that the public’s idea of this myth comes from a million different places…I became committed to recontextualizing it all so it all worked in one story. By the end of the day, yeah it’s a period piece, yes it’s from Igor’s perspective, but man it’s cool….it’s the best thing I’ve written."

I get the idea of trying to re-understand the story, get back to the true meaning of it. But let's remember that Igor wasn't even in the original book. Is he trying to create the "ultimate" Frankenstein film? I think the thing that disturbs me the most about this quote is the use of the word "cool". And he's using that in relation to himself. Frankenstein wasn't cool, he was a bastard who ruined everyone's lives, and tortured the monster that he made. Well, let's just hope the script is half decent. Paul McGuigan, who directed episodes of the BBC's Sherlock series, is directing this yet unnamed film, so maybe the coolness will come from a Holmes-esque sociopathic detachment.

Speaking of Sherlock, there seems to be another Frankenstein film in the works. Guillermo del Toro, the director of Pacific Rim (the subject of our latest podcast review), wishes to direct Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch in his own version of Shelley's tale. Cumberbatch has previously acted as both Frankenstein and the monster in Danny Boyle's stage production, and del Toro is the master of atmospheric gothic, so if this project seriously goes ahead, this truly will be an exciting film.

To top it all off, Aaron Eckhart is starring in a modern day version called I, Frankenstein, based on Grevioux's Underworld comic. A bit more of a dark fantasy tale, this one could be the most alien from the original book yet.

Well, if this year is the year of apocalypse films, next year will all be about the modern Prometheus. I look forward to it, but I could never forget the book. Make it your mission to read Mary Shelley's indemodable classic before you see any of is films, if you haven't already. You won't regret it.


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