Sunday, November 2, 2014


It has been too long since I last sat down to write a post for this blog.  I remember thinking to myself last March--'I will update it before Spring Break, and then that way I will not have to worry about missing my second update for the month, and can return to it in April.'  Obviously, that didn't happen. *headdesk*

I hope in my absence, my readers have been continuing to fly your geek flags.  Did you finish the homework I assigned?  You better have, because over half a year is plenty of time.  I look forward to your thoughts on 'Severus Snape?  Great complex character, or just a bastard and a bully?'

So, in celebration of my return, and on my last day before I start a new job, I've decided that today I shall discuss one of my all time favorite books--one that examines intricately the nature of life and death and much more.  I am, of course, talking about *lightning crashes* Frankenstein *thunder booms.*

Where to start with Frankenstein?  It is an iconic story in English literature.  Written by Mary Shelly, Frankenstein explores the idea of what if man could create life?  But like most great novels, the story delves into much deeper themes, including the idea of what makes someone evil?  Your parents?  Society?  Yourself?  All three?  The story also explores the relationship between science and religion, knowledge and emotion, parent and child and makes the reader question, who is really the monster?  (Answer: This guy below.  He is always the monster.)

He's standing behind you right now.

When most people think of Frankenstein, they think of the iconic monster movie images--the tall green man with bolts out of his neck (Fun Fact: He's NOT called Frankenstein.  He's Frankenstein's Monster, or the Monster, or the Creature.  I cannot emphasize this enough, that the monster is NOT CALLED FRANKENSTEIN.) and the mad scientist, (who IS FRANKENSTEIN) cackling over his creation, screaming 'IT'S ALIIIVE!!! IT'S ALIIIIVE!!' (Like you would react any differently.  The guy just literally created life--I think my mind would be blown too.)

Pop Quiz! 

(Fun Fact: Some people may pronounce it differently)

The Monster
(Fun Fact: He is NOT Frankenstein)

If you can name them correctly, give yourself a piece of Halloween candy.
I first read Frankenstein in high school--but I didn't appreciate the book then.  It was only later, in college, that I fell in love with the story.  It frustrates me to no end that there isn't a really faithful adaptation of the novel for the big screen.  In the novel, there is no Igor character, and the story of isn't about a mob of villages chasing down a monster.  Frankenstein ultimately becomes a tale of revenge--of the Monster against Victor Frankenstein and Victor believing the Monster is a devil and needs to be destroyed.  (It's quite a cheerful read, as you can imagine.)  

My favorite adaptation, that I was lucky enough to see at the movie theater, was a play that was produced in 2011, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller (Fun Fact: both of these actors play Sherlock Holmes on tv, in modern adaptations). National Theater Live filmed the production and showed it in theaters this last October.  What was brilliant about this play was the two leads swapped the roles of Frankenstein and the Creature, so one night Johnny Lee Miller would play the Creature and the next night he would be playing Frankenstein.  I love how that highlights the relationship between the characters, and makes the audience question how different they are.

Pictured above: Brilliance.
*dramatic music*
Who is the monster?
No, I couldn't possibly have another glass...well, maybe just one more...
If you have a chance to catch a screening of this play, I definitely recommend it.  I wasn't able to see Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as the Monster, but his Victor was incredible.  Cold, arrogant, and manic, his gradually sinks into madness, only to come to the heartbreaking realization at the end that he could have a long, happy life.  His obsession to create life basically robs him of his.  

Pictured Above: Dramatic Irony.
Johnny Lee Miller's Monster is one of the most incredible performances I've ever seen.  The play follows the Monster--starting at his creation, and his exploration of the world, to his introduction to pain and rejection and loneliness, ultimately ending in hatred for his creator abandoning him.   Miller took inspiration from children, and that is what the Monster is in the story-an abandoned child. Miller is just AMAZING--fully conveying the wide range of the Monster's emotions and physicality. 

Currently, the play hasn't been released on DVD, but National Theater Live has encore performances occasionally, usually around Halloween I think.  Definitely go see it if you have a chance. (Or, alternatively, build a time machine and go back to 2011 to watch it performed live).

However, if you really want to experience Frankenstein at it's very best, read the book.   As the first science fiction novel, it has some truly terrifying passages that are far scarier than anything that is shown on a screen--the imagination is always more frightening.

I leave you now, with this very important scene, from one of my favorite Frankenstein movies, one that examines what would have happened if Frankenstein hadn't abandoned the Creature. If you haven't seen Young Frankenstein you are missing out.  Enjoy.

Fact of the Day: Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein as part of a ghost story contest with her husband, Percy Shelly, and Lord Byron.  See?  Even back then people thought it was fun to scare each other.

TTFN! Ta Ta For Now!

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