by Mags, 8 April 2007
Unhappily married, toddler boy in tow, and trapped in a castle overlooking Lake Geneva due to unseasonably wet weather, Mary Shelley began writing FRANKENSTEIN: THE MODERN PROMETHEUS IN MAY OF 1816. She was 19.
FRANKENSTEIN: THE MODERN PROMETHEUS was first published anonymously in 1818, and became a popular success, though it was panned by the critics who thought this work of science fiction to be a “tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity”. CLICK HERE for full Wikipedia article
Reworked and republished under her name - Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley - the 1931 edition is said to be more pop than its original.
189 years and a few dozen adaptations later - not the least of them in movie format - FRANKENSTEIN holds a unique place in human cultural context, and is not only relevant still, but its foreboding prescience is even more compelling today than when it was first written in 1816!
Like all enduring cultural icons, FRANKENSTEIN is many things to many people, and has indeed developed a life beyond what was written on the page by the youthful and intellectual Mary Shelley. We can be relatively certain that she didn’t intend for many of the popular, entertaining but silly interpretations given to her creation, but FRANKENSTEIN is nonetheless understood to be a serious warning against the heavy hand of man interfering with God’s worldly creations.
Stem cell research, GMO (genetically modified foodstuffs), cloning, even - it can be argued - the entire field of pharmaceuticals and medicine, can fall under the Frankenstein Effect umbrella, whereby man ends up creating a monster humanity cannot embrace, that eventually turns upon itself and destroys its very creator by default.
At heart the Frankenstein story seems to me to be a story about having the courage to face up to calamities - no matter how ugly and gruesome reality might seem at first glance - and NEVER walking away from personal responsibility when it comes time to account for actions. After all, it is said, “God helps those who help themselves”. So, it’s never a question of simply DOING or NOT DOING THINGS that might save precious lives, or that might enlighten us more to the mysteries of the universe, but it is about always taking considered action.
- If Frankenstein’s creator had ended his experiment instead of running away to hide, and hoping that the forces of nature would destroy his frightful creation - the story would not have ended in tragedy
- If Frankenstein’s creator had found it in himself to love his deformed, misfit creation, to offer it happy living circumstances - the story would not have ended in tragedy
In the final analysis it is not the creature Frankenstein that is evil and depraved, so much as it is the very fact of this creature having to endure a life it did not ask for, without the very basic comfort of having companionship and decent treatment at the hands of those who are nevertheless happy to benefit from its hard work and abilities. So this story is less a story of a monster, than it is a story showing us how monsters come to be.
AND NOW, the takeaway MOVIE memorabilia for this movie blog is:
Watch YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN! …………………..it is truly a movie classic.
Mags, 8 April 07
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