Mary Shelley

Frankenstein DVD Commentary

IT’S ALIVE! IT’S ALIVE! For 81 years, those words have surely been said from at least one person to another every year around Halloween time, and for good reason. Not only is Frankenstein arguably the best of the Universal monsters from the 1930s, the monster at the film’s center has become a pivotal image for October 31st. So, to round our horror slate of commentaries, we’re diving into the classic original, our oldest film covered to date. Naturally, this means we aren’t listening to any of the cast or crew from the film (although we get some quotations from director James Whale). Since the first commentary track came out in 1984 – King Kong Criterion Collection, which will be covered at some point here – films from days of old have to settle for film historians to talk shop while they play out. That’s not to say there aren’t invaluable bits of information found here, but expect lots of film theory and LOTS of snobbery. Who knows? Maybe Rudy Behlmer, who is featured here, likes to check his brain at the door with the rest of us. Checking brains at the door. Frankenstein’s monster. There’s a joke in there somewhere, but probably not a very funny one. Let’s get the commentary started, shall we?

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It will be incredibly interesting to see how “The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein” is chopped up, sewn back together and presented on the big screen. The story burns down the barn, but it does it slowly and deliberately. Hopefully that tone and atmosphere will survive. It’s a story about monsters, yes, but it’s also a story about the strange friendship between Victor Frankenstein and poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (the husband of “Frankenstein” author Mary Shelley). Sam Raimi is currently producing the adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s novel, and the project has found a writer in David Auburn – the playwright/screenwriter who seems to be stepping out of his wheelhouse here if only just a bit. He wrote Proof, The Lake House, and took his turn for Lifetime as writer and director of The Girl in the Park. There’s nothing there to just lose your mind over, so, yes, he’s got a Pulitzer, but the proof is in the pages. Of course, this project also hinges seriously on what director steps up to the plate. At any rate, Auburn will have to tap every talent resource he’s got to deliver the nuance, fear, and philosophical thrill of the novel to a world being told its hungry for Frankenstein. [Deadline Geneva]

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We already knew del Toro was going to take on Frankenstein. We didn’t realize he’d be keeping his clothes on for it.

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