Beyond Adaptation: Frankenstein’s postmodern progeny

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Colecciones : DFI. Artículos del Departamento de Filología Inglesa
Fecha de publicación : 2005
[ES]El presente estudio trata de cómo la novela gótica “Frankenstein o el Moderno Prometeo” de Mary Shelley en el cine contemporáneo, en particular como se refleja en la película Frankenstein: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein de Kenneth Charles Branagh.
Publicado el : miércoles, 22 de agosto de 2012
Lectura(s) : 19
Fuente : Gredos de la universidad de salamenca
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BeyondAdaptation: Frankenstein’s Postmodern Progeny
Pedro Javier Pardo García
ThischapterexaminesKennethBranagh’s MaryShelley’sFranken- stein (1994)inordertodemonstratehow,despitethefilm’savowed claimtobefaithfultothebook,itdisplaysimportantdifferenceswith itwhicharerelatedtootherfilms,notonlypreviousadaptationsof Frankenstein ,butalsocontemporaryadaptationsofothertexts–– FrancisFordCoppola’s BramStoker’sDracula (1992)inparticular. AfterabriefoverviewoftheFrankensteincinematicmyth,thechapter focusesontheelementsapparentlyrestoredfromthebookbutinfact transformedafterCoppola’sexample,whichturnBranagh’sfilminto aromantic Frankenstein .Thenitmovesontooutrightadditions, elementswhichhavenothingtodowiththebookbutultimatelypoint tootherfilmversionsofthemyth,althoughreinterpretedandtrans- formedinordertoproduceapostmodern Frankenstein .Thefinal sectiondiscussestheimplicationsofthisparticularcaseforatheoryof filmadaptationandproposesaredefinitionofadaptationascultural intertextuality.
TheFrankenstein Myth
WhenMaryShelleyreferredto Frankenstein;or,theModern Prometheus (1818;1831)as‘myhideousprogeny’(Shelley1993: 197),shecouldnotbeawareofhowherstatementwouldbeprophetic ofthecinematicafterlifeofhermasterpiece.VictorFrankenstein’s fearsaboutaraceofmonsterspopulatingtheearthhavebecome realityinthelegionoffilmversionsofhismonsterhauntingthou- sandsofcinemasandintheimaginationsofmillionsofspectators. Fewbooksinworldliteraturehavebeensoconstantlyandintensely adapted to film, to such an extent that, as Paul O’Flinn has argued, this ceaselessreproductionhasalteredtheperceptionoftheliterarysource andengenderedamultiplicityof Frankensteins ,asmanyasfilm
224 Pedro Javier Pardo García adaptationshavebeenmade:‘Thefactthatmanypeoplecallthe monsterFrankensteinandthusconfusethepairbetraystheextentof thatrestructuring’(O’Flinn1995:22).Tobeexact,however,itisnot justtheliterarysourcethathasbeenceaselesslyreproduced:mostfilm versionsdonottakeMaryShelley’stextasapointofdeparture,but previousfilmversions.Infact,whatdifferentversionshavein commonisnotsomuchthebookasthemythcreatedbyitsdramatic andcinematicreproduction,totheextentthatthebookhasbecome onemoreversionofthatmyth—thefounding,butnotnecessarilythe mostinfluentialone.Themediationofmythinthetransferencefrom pagetoscreenmustbetakenintoaccountinanystudyofthefilm adaptationsof Frankenstein ,asthetitleofthischapteremphasises:it doesnotreferto Frankenstein ’s—thebook—butFrankenstein’s—the myth—progeny.ItstopicisthelatestadaptationbyKennethBranagh (1994),aparadigmaticexampleofthismediation:thefilmclaimsto restorethemythtoitsoriginalpurityfromthetitleitself— Mary Shelley’sFrankenstein —butinfactitadaptsthemythasmuchasthe book, and is ultimately one more version of the myth. ThestoryofthetransformationofMaryShelley’s Franken- stein intotheFrankensteinmythstartsveryearly,withitsfirstdrama- tisationbyRichardBrinsleyPeakein1823, Presumption;or,theFate ofFrankenstein . 1 Thisisthebeginningoftheprocessofomissionand simplificationcharacteristicofdramaandfilmadaptationsandwell summedupbyAlbertJ.Lavalleywhenhewritesthat‘weneversee Justine and the locket that betrayed her, we never meet Walton, and no onehaseverseentheMonsterread ParadiseLost orPlutarch’(1979: 246).Adaptations,however,alsoaddnewelementstothemyth:‘a creationscene,aweddingnightsceneoranabductionofthebride, andasceneoffierydestruction’(Lavalley1979:245-6).Theprocess 1 ThesuccessofPeake’sstageadaptationledtoMaryShelley’sfatherarrangingfora reprintofthenovel(1823);anewedition,revisedbyMaryShelley,waspublishedin 1831.TheOxfordUniversityPresseditionof1993publishesthe1818text,withan AppendixbyeditorMarilynButlerwhere,previoustothecollationofthe1818and 1831texts,thetypesofchangemadein1831aresummarised:thecharactersof WaltonandespeciallyFrankensteinaresoftenedandmademuchmoreadmirable, Frankenstein’sscientificeducationislargelyrewrittenandheisgivenanexplicitly religiousconsciousness,andthefamilyandtheirblood-tiesarerevised(e.g.Elizabeth isnolongerFrankenstein’scousinbutastranger).Shelley’s1831revisionmightbe seenaspartoftheveryprocessofrewriting/adaptationoftheFrankensteinmyth explored in this essay.
Frankenstein’s Postmodern Progeny 225 ofadditionisclearlyatworkinthetwoclassicfilmsbyJamesWhale, Frankenstein (1931)and TheBrideofFrankenstein (1935).The paraphernaliaandgadgetryofthelaboratoryandthecreationscene, thepresenceofanassistant—whoprovidesthewrongbrainforthe creature—andofamadscientist,DrPretorius,theinterventionofthe mobchasingthemonsterandthecompletionofthecreationofamate, allofthemabsentinShelley’snovel,recurinmostofthelater versionsandhavebecomepartofthecinematicmyth. AftertheWhale films, the myth splits in two traditions, asMartinTropp explains: InfactWhale’stwofilmseachinspireditsownbranchoftheFrankenstein tradition.PartOne,withitssilentMonsterandwell-meaningbutmisdi- rectedscientist,becamethebasisofUniversalStudio’smanysequels, whichinturnfirmlyestablishedapatternthatwouldinfluencesciencefic- tionandhorrorfilmsthroughtheFiftiesandSixties. TheBrideofFranken- stein ,withitsarticulateMonsterandcold,perverse‘Pretorian’scientist, was,forthetimebeing,forgotten.LateintheFifties,thesecharactersre- turned to inspire a whole new Frankenstein cycle. (1999: 47) ThenewcyclereferredtobyTroppwastheseriesoffilms producedinBritain bytheHammerStudio,whichstartedin1957with TerenceFisher’s TheCurseofFrankenstein andendedin1974with Fisher’s FrankensteinandtheMonsterfromHell ,addinguptoseven filmsaltogether,asmanyastheUniversalcycle. 2 TheHammerseries contributedtherecreationofVictor(PeterCushing)asGothicvillain, andthelushVictoriandécoraswellasperiodcostume(enhancedby thefinecolourphotographywhichreplacedblackandwhite);it innovatedinthecreationsceneandthenewimportanceattachedto sexuality;anditdevelopedtounexpectedextremesthebrainmotifin aseriesofbraintransplantstakingplaceinsucceedingfilms.Afterthe
2 Tropp’s MaryShelley’sMonster (1977)remainsthemostcompletesurveyofthe fortunesofShelley’sbookonfilm,andithasbeenrecently(1999)re-issuedasalong articlethatextendsthesurveytothe1990s—andthereforetoBranagh.Theother criticalcornerstoneisLavalley(1979),whichincludesinterestingsectionson nineteenth-centurydramatisationsandon‘MonstersinFilmbeforetheUniversal Frankenstein of1931’.O’Flinn(1995)ismoreselectiveandfocusesonWhaleand Fisher,buthisviewscomplementTropp’sonthetwotraditions.Finally,thereisthe overviewinFrenchbyMenegaldo(1998),agoodsummaryofpreviousmaterialswith someinterestingcontributions,andincludingshortdiscussionsnotonlyofBranagh, butalsoofthetelevisionfilmproducedoneyearbefore(Wickes1993)andofTim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands  (1990).
226 Pedro Javier Pardo García UniversalandtheHammercycles,therewasathirdstageinthe developmentofthecinematicmythaptlycharacterisedbyLavalleyas oneofexcess,parody,andreinterpretation.Therewasanattemptto retellthemythinnewways,addingatouchofplayfulnessandself- consciousness,butnonetheless,asTroppremarks,inlinewiththetwo previoustraditions.PaulMorrissey’s AndyWarhol’sFrankenstein (1974)revisitstheHammertraditionbytakingittoshockingexcess, MelBrooks’sblack-and-white YoungFrankenstein (1974)isaparody oftheUniversalseries,andthetelevisionfilm Frankenstein:TheTrue Story (1973),directedbyJackSmightforNBC,makesexplicitthe drivetowardsretellingandreinterpretation:the‘true’storyisnotso muchShelley’s,butthe‘real’storyShelleynevertoldbecauseofits biographical and homosexual implications. 3 Thestoryof Shelley’s Frankenstein  on filmis therefore one of distortion,ofomissionsandadditions,simplificationandelaboration, orsimply,oneinwhichthemythhassupplantedthenovel(Tropp 1999:74),orrather,filmhassupplantedthenovelasasourceofmyth (Tropp1999:39).Itisnotsurprising,then,thatafteratwenty-year gapwithoutanynewadaptation,thelatestone,Branagh’s Mary Shelley’sFrankenstein ,purportedtoreturntothebookfromitsvery title—amoveanticipatedoneyearearlierbyatelevisionfilm, Frank- enstein,TheRealStory ,directedbyDavidWickesforTurnerTelevi- sion.Branagh’spurportedrestorationofthenovel,however,isonly truetoacertainextent.ItisundeniablethatBranaghrestoresprecisely thosepartsusuallyabsentfromfilmadaptations,aspointedoutby Lavalley:theJustinesubplot,thenarrativeframeincludingWalton andtheArcticsetting,andthecreature’sprocessofself-education. ButthescenesnotedbyLavalleyasrecurrentadditionsinalladapta- tionsarealsopresent:thecreation,wedding-nightanddestruction scenes.TheseandotherchangesdiscussedbelowprovethatBranagh iswellawareofthecinematictraditionofadaptationsprecedinghim andthat,inaccordancewiththistradition,heviewsShelley’snovelas ‘amythictext,anoccasionforthewritertoletloosehisownfantasies ortostagewhathefeelsisdramaticallyeffective,toremaintruetothe centralcoreofthemyth,andoftentoletitinteractwithfearsand tensionsofthecurrenttime’(Lavalley1979:245).Apparently
3 Amore—althoughnottotally—faithfulretellingcanbefoundinanothertelevision production of the sameyear, Frankenstein , directed by Dan Curtis for ABC.
Frankenstein’s Postmodern Progeny 227 Branaghintended—perhapsjustpretended—tofilmafaithfuladapta- tionofthebook,buthedidnotsucceedincircumventingthecine- maticmyth.HisfilmadaptsnotonlyShelley’sbook,butalsothe previousfilmadaptations.Infact,itblendsthetwocentraltraditions of the myth, its Universal and Hammer elaborations. AndthesearenottheonlytracesofpreviousfilmsinBran- agh’s Frankenstein .Inhisfakeorhalf-wayrestorationofShelley’s Frankenstein ,BranaghisalsoindebtedtoFrancisFordCoppola’s earlier—andsimilarlyfake—restorationofanotherGothicclassic, BramStoker’sDracula (1992).Theparallelismintitlesentailsa parallelismnotonlyintherestorationtheyannounce,butalsointhe romanticandspectacularrenditionoftheliterarysourcetheyeffect. Coppolawrapshisfilmintheculturalprestigeoftheliterarytext,but infactcarriesoutanideologicalsubversionofitsmeaninganda spectacularvisualisationofitscontent(PardoGarcía2003).The Gothicvampireistransformedintoaromantichero,bothinthesense oftheprotagonistofalovestorycrossing‘oceansoftime’,asDracula himselfsays—andthe filmcreditsadvertise: ‘Loveneverdies’—anda Romanticrebel-misfitinsearchoftheabsolute.Thevisualspectacle resultsfromacombinationofstylisedcostumes,highlysaturated colours,impressivesettings,andclimacticpeaksoffranticaction,as wellasfromthepresenceofacompositevampirewhosemetamorphic capacityisusedtoofferaseriesofintertextualquotationsofprevious cinematicvampires.Thefilmthusexhibitsaself-consciousawareness ofthefilmtraditionparticularlyconspicuousinthesceneofDracula atthecinematograph.Itgoeswithoutsayingthatthesestrategies ultimatelyrespondtoconditionsofproduction,totheHollywood conceptionoffilmasindustrialproductandtheensuingneedto fabricategoodsforpopularconsumptionbytuningthemtocontempo- rarysensibilities and expectations. Despite the aura of cultural prestige advertisedinthetitle,thisisthehiddenagendabehindCoppola’s adaptation—andbehindBranagh’s.Coppola’s Dracula ,then,isthe secondimportantmediationoffilm—thefirstbeingthecinematic Frankensteinmyth—betweenShelley’s Frankenstein andBranagh’s MaryShelley’sFrankenstein :BranaghadaptsCoppola—andWhale, and Fisher—as muchas Shelley.
Pedro Javier Pardo García
822 The Romantic Frankenstein Branaghcertainlyrestoresthethreeelementswhichhadbeen persistentlysuppressedinpreviousversionsandwhichendowhisfilm withamuchclosernarrativekinshiptoShelley’snovel.Inthefirst place,thePrometheanthemeoftheoverreacherwhodefiesGodby assuminghispowerofcreatinglifeisbroughttotheforegroundby reinstatingthenovel’snarrativeframe,Walton’sexpeditiontothe NorthPole,whichmirrorsVictor’sPrometheanefforts.Thisthemeis developedbynarratingindetailtheoriginsofVictor’sthirstfor forbiddenknowledgeandhisacquisitionofitatIngolstadt.Inthe secondplace,therestorationofthecreature’sautodidacticacquisition ofavoiceandhislateruseofittofacehiscreatorontheseaofice and to narrate hisstory from hispoint of view is central to the retrieval ofanotherthematicstrainofthestory,themonster’svindicationofhis humanityandoftheinhumanityofmen,hisSatanic—Miltonic— dimensionofrebelwithacause.Finally,therecoveryofasecondary characterfrequentlysacrificedforthesakeofcondensation,Justine Moritz,pointstoalargermotif,thatofthenaturalandfamilial milieu—towhichJustinebelongsandfromwhichVictorradically severshimselfforthesakeofscience—andthereforetothefemale critiqueofmaleaspirationsubtlyarticulatedbythatmilieuandby Elizabethinparticular.Furthermore,thatmilieuissetinthenovel’s originalspaceandtime,thusrestoringanotherRomanticdimensionof thebook,thesublimelandscape,usuallyerasedbecauseofthe cinematichabitofpresentingthestoryinmorecontemporarysettings. AllthreeelementsidentifythedominanttraitorientingBranagh’s restorationofShelley’s Frankenstein :thereanimationofthatoriginal Romanticcoremissinginpreviousversions.Buttheseelementswhich areapparentlyrestoredareinfactsubtlytransformedintosomething different, not wholly Romantic,but rather simply romantic. AsfarasVictor’sPrometheanquestforthesecretoflifeis concerned,thisismotivatednotjustbyRomanticaspirationbutalso bypersonalreasonsabsentinthenovel.ThefilmpresentsVictor’s decisiontocreatelifeastheresultofthetraumaticdeathofhismother whilegivingbirth—notofscarletfever,asinthenovel—andhis desiretopreventwomenfromdyinginsimilarconditions.Thisis highlightedbythevisualconceptionofthecreationsceneasprocrea- tion,andbytheproductionofthemonsterasreproduction:ashower
Frankenstein’s Postmodern Progeny 229 ofelectriceels—spermatozoa—descendfromenormousbagsresem- blingtesticlestoacontainerofamnioticfluid—asurrogatewomb— wherethecreatureislyingandfromwhichhebreaksout—thebirth watersfloodtheground—nakedandhelplesslikeanewborninfant— infactitstartsbreathingafterbeingslapped.Further,thebrainofthis creaturebelongstoVictor’smentorandpredecessorinthestruggleto createlife,ProfessorWaldman,whosemurdertriggersVictor’s decisiontocreateartificiallife.Inshort,creationforthecinematic Victorisapersonal,affectiveresponsetothedeathofhislovedones. ThereisalsoacovertattempttoreanimateWaldman—hisbrain— superimposedontheovertactofartificialbirth.Thiscovertconcep- tionofcreationasresurrectionismadeovertanddevelopedtoits furthestconsequencesinthemakingofafemalecreature,whichisnot Victor’sresponsetothemonster’sappealforamate,buttothedeath ofElizabethandthereforeanattemptatresurrectingher.Thisisthe climaxofBranagh’stransformationofFrankenstein’sPromethean questforknowledge.Victorisbasicallyfightingdeath;hisProme- theanrebellionagainstGodspringsfromhisrefusaltoacceptdeath, notinanabstractsense,butinaveryspecificone:hismother’s,his friend’s,hisbeloved’s.Feeling,notintellect,istheforcedrivinghim, againnotageneralloveformankind,butforcertainhumanbeings— theloveofadutifulson,afriend,alover.Branagh’sVictorisa Prometheanmanoffeeling,hislifeaPrometheanlovestory.His grandeurthusdecreases,butsodoeshisblame:hissinisnottheresult ofinhumanambition,butofveryhumanfeelings.Thechanges introducedinrelationtotheothertwoelementsrestoredfromthe book,thehumanisedcreatureandJustine,alsocontributetothis contraction. Thetransferencefrombooktofilmofthecreatureturnedinto amonsterbytheinhumantreatmentofhumanityisnuancedbytwo apparentlyminoradditionswhichturnouttobeverysignificant.In thefirstplace,thecreatureisgivenacriminalbody.Inmakinghim, Victorusesconvicts’bodies,particularlythatofthemurdererof Waldman,whichhestealsafterhehasbeenhanged.Thiscastsnew lightonthecreature’scriminalacts,whichcannotthereforebe explainedonlyinRousseau’stermsastheeffectofthecorrupting influenceofsocietyonanoblesavage.Theintertextualitycontributed bytheactorplayingboththemurdererandthecreature,Robertde Niro,well-knownforthepartsascriminal,gangsterandpsychohe has
230 Pedro Javier Pardo García played,alsoaddstothischaracterisationofthecreature.Inthesecond place,theideaofinheritedevilisfurtherhighlightedwhenthe creatureintroducesinhisspeechontheseaoficeatopicwhichis absentinthenovel.Hisquestions—‘Inwhichpartofmedoesthis knowledge[howtoplaytheflute]reside:inthishand,inthismind, thisheart?…WhoamI?…WhoarethepeopleofwhichIam comprised?Badpeople?’—suggesttheexistenceofakindof‘corpo- ralmemory’(Zakharieva1996:747)andimplythatthecreature’s bodymightrememberandhencecontainitscriminalexperience,asit doestheabilitytoplaytheflute.UnlikeShelley,Branaghsuggests thatevilmightbepartofhisinnatenatureasmuchasgoodness,that monstrosityisnotjustasocialconstructbut alsoaproductofheredity. Thiscastsadarkshadowonthecreature’sself-vindicationandhis latermurderousacts,andalsotendstomitigateVictor’sresponsibility forthem,especiallybecause,insteadoffleeinghiscreationandthus lettingitlooseupontheworld,hefirstlyattemptstodestroyitand then,whenitrunsaway,hetakesforgrantedthatitwillsuccumbto the plague—another film addition serving well Victor’s vindication. Inthisrespect,Justineisalsosignificant.Inthefilm,unlike thenovel,sheisnotgivenafairtrialbeforeacourt,butislynchedby amadmobdespiteVictor’sdesperateattemptstosaveher.The differenceisnotirrelevant.Inthebook,thecreatureispresentedas Victor’sdouble,embodyinginhisoutermonstrosityVictor’sinneror repressedmonstrosity,andthusrepresentingtheRomanticfigureof the Doppelgänger (Tropp1977:37).Inthissense,Victor’sinability duringJustine’strialtomakepublictheexistenceofthemonsterthat hasactuallykilledWilliamandthussaveherlifeisrepresentativeof hisinabilitytoacknowledgehis dark,repressedself.Itisalsoan actof cowardicethat,despiteVictor’sprotestations,addstotheinconsisten- ciesinthecreationofthecreatureanditsmate—heabandonsthetask forreasonswhicharenobetterthanhisabandonmentofthecreature foritsugliness.Thisunderminestheimageofdoomedheroinwhich hetriestocasthimselfinhiswriting,andhencemakeshisnarrative unreliable.ButinBranagh’s Frankenstein he is suchahero;bothhis duplicationandhisduplicitydisappear,theJustineepisodebeing perhapstheclearestindicationofthis.Anotherinterestingimplication oftheepisodeisthatJustineisequatedtothecreatureasthemob’s scapegoat,asthevictimofmonster-makingandmonster-chasing whichusesexclusionascommunityaffirmation.Thefactthatthis
Frankenstein’s Postmodern Progeny 231 scapegoatisfemale,andthatherbody,likeVictor’smother’satthe beginningandElizabeth’sattheend,iscruellydestroyed,emphasises therepresentationofthefemaleasvictimofmaledesireandviolence. Thefemaleisthusincludedinthediscourseonsocialvictimisation and,againlikethecreature,isalsogivenastrongervoice.Thisvoice isElizabeth’s,whoisamoreimportantcharacterinthefilmthanshe wasinthenovelandispresentedasastrong-willedwoman(Laplace- Sinatra1998:255-6)whomakesdecisionssuchasleavingVictoror marryinghim,andtakesactionssuchasgoingtoIngolstadttofetch himorforcinghimtoabandonthecreationofthefemalecreature.The critiqueofmaleambitionoriginallypresentinthenovelisthus reinforcedanddevelopedthroughfemaleself-assertionandvindica- tion—but only to a limited extent, as will shortly be seen. Asaresultofallthesechanges,therestorationofShelley’s bookadvertisedinthefilm’stitleissubverted.Whattakesplace insteadisaprocessof‘romantisation’,thatistosay,thetransforma- tionoftheRomanticintotheromanticbyturningVictorintoahero lesscomplexandobscure,moreheroicandone-sided,ruledbyhuman affectionratherthanPrometheanaspiration,theprotagonistofalove storyinvolvingtheothertwoapexesofthetraditionalGothictriangle. TheoutcomeinwhichthemonstercompeteswithVictorforElizabeth perfectlydramatisesboththistriangleandhisconditionaspassionate loverratherthanoverreacher,PygmalionratherthanPrometheus. BranaghdoesnotseemtobeawareofVictor’sunreliability—ofhis duplicityandduplication.Elizabethandthecreature,althoughgiven thevoicethatthecinematicmythhaddeniedthem,seemtobe ultimatelysubordinatedtothisromantisationandtheirtraditional Gothicroles:thecreatureisgivenacriminalbody;Elizabethisstilla woman in love. InproposinghisfilmasarestorationofShelley’s Franken- stein andthensubvertingitthroughromantisation,Branaghisfollow- inginCoppola’sfootsteps.Coppolahadeffectedasimilar revitalisationoflostelementsfromStoker,includingaRomantic dimension—whichinCoppolawasanadditionratherthanarecov- ery—andasimilarprocessofnarrationbyaseriesofdifferent voices—whichplayedanimportantpartincreatingtheillusionof literaryauthenticity.Theillusion,however,wasunderminedby Coppola’sromantictransformationofStoker’splot—asisthecasein Branagh.Thestrategiesguidingbothadaptations—restorationand
232 Pedro Javier Pardo García romantisation—areconsequentlythesame,whichisnotsurprisingif weconsiderthatCoppolawasactivelyinvolvedintheproductionof MaryShelley’sFrankenstein ,choosingbothdirectorandscriptwriter. 4 Itwouldnotseem,then,toofar-fetchedtosupposethatCoppola’s previousexperienceinadapting Dracula —andmakingitabox-office hit—weighedheavilyonthescript.ItundoubtedlydidonBranagh’s visualtreatmentofthatscript:thespectacularmise-en-scèneisso conspicuousinBranagh’sfilmthatitcanbeconsideredthethird strategyofadaptationderivedfromCoppola.InturningShelley’s Frankenstein intoaromanticspectacle,Branaghcarriesoutasimilar ideologicalandvisualsubversionofthebooktoCoppola’s,underthe samecoverofrestoration.Andthiscreatesananalogousconflict between the will to make the film a popular product and the pretension to endow it with the cultural prestige of the literary. InBranagh,however,thereareadditionalconflictsalready hintedatintheprecedinganalysis.Thecreatorisablendingofthe procreatorandthere-animator,sotheconceptionofcreationvacillates betweenreproductionandresurrection.Thecreatureispresentedboth asnoblesavageandviciouscriminal,sothereisahesitationinthe presentationofmonstrosityasproductofenvironmentorheredity. AndElizabethisstrongandoutspokenbutalsosubmissiveand dependent.Theseconflictsarenotrestrictedtotheinteriorityofthe threecentralcharacters,butalsoresultfromtheirinteraction.The margins—thefemaleandthemonstrous—arevindicated,butthis vindication,whichimpliesacritiqueofVictor’sinhumanity,selfish- nessandirresponsibility,collideswithandisultimatelysubmittedto Victor’svindication,tohisheroicromantisation,sothecritiqueloses edge.Thefilmthusseemstobeacompositeproduct,madeupofparts notsuccessfullyintegratedintoawhole,perhapsasaresultofits belatedness—withrespecttobothCoppola’sfilmandtheFranken- steincinematicmyth—andensuingself-consciousness.Ontheone hand,Coppola’sstrategiesdonotseemtohavebeenproperlydi-
4 ColumbiaTriStarPictures,whichproduced BramStoker’sDracula ,conceivedof Frankenstein asitssequelsoastocashinonitssuccess,andresortedagainto Coppola,whohadhadaprojecttoadapt Frankenstein sincethe1970s.Althoughhe eventuallydeclinedtodirectthefilm—asdidTimBurton,whowasalsoofferedthe project—hebecameoneoftheproducersandchoseBranaghinstead.Furthermore, Coppola,whowasnotsatisfiedwiththeinitialtreatmentofthestorybyStephLady, chose Frank Darabon to rewrite the original script.
Frankenstein’s Postmodern Progeny 233 gested;ontheotherhand,similartensionscanbedetectedasregards theinfluenceofthecinematicFrankensteintradition.Theexamination ofthetracesleftbythistraditionmakesclearthecomposite,self- consciousnatureofthefilm,whichisperhapsthemajorsymptomof its postmodern nature. ThePostmodern Frankenstein ThepostmodernaffiliationofBranagh’s Frankenstein isbest observedbyfocusingonthreerecurringcontributionsoffilmversions tothemythor,inotherwords,threetraditionalsitesofdivergence betweenbookandfilms.Ifthepresenceofthesesitesin MaryShel- ley’sFrankenstein pointstothemediationofthecinematicmythin Branagh’sadaptationofthebook,thewayhehandlesthemrevealsits postmodern approach to that myth. Thefirstofthesesitesisthecreationscenetakingplacein Frankenstein’slaboratoryandproducingaspecificvisualrepresenta- tionofthemonster.Aftertheimpactcreatedbytheinclusionofthese elementsinthefirstversionbyWhale,theyhavebecomethehallmark ofallFrankensteinadaptations,amustonwhichtoacertainextent eachsucceedingversionlaysitsclaimtooriginalityand,ifnotto posterity,atleasttorecognition. 5 Branaghseemstobewellawareof this,sinceheevokes andblendselementsfromthetwomaintraditions ofthecinematicmyth.AsinWhale’sandtheUniversalfilms,the creationinvolvestheverticalascensionofthecreaturetowardsthesky aswellastheelectricalapparatusassociatedwithit.AsintheFisher films,though,thecreatureisalsosubmergedinatankofliquid,and eelsareusedasasourceofanimation.Inthisrespect,theinfluenceof Wickes’s1993televisionversion,wherethecreationtakesplaceina tankofliquidthatduplicateswhateverissubmergedinit,cannotbe altogetherdiscarded.However,asMenegaldohasobserved(1998: 54),thistechniqueequatescreationandcloning,thusdevelopingthe ideaofthecreatureasVictor’sdouble,whichisabsentinBranagh.In
5 Theincorporationofacreationsceneisnotonlytheresultoftheculturalweightof Whale’s1931film,asLaplace-Sinatrahasargued(1998:261),butitisalsorelatedto thevisualnatureoffilm.Filmiscompelledbyitsvisualnaturetoobjectifythe creature,andthusforcesviewerstofacehisugliness,elusivelyalludedtoratherthan fully described in the book (Heffernan 1997: 141).
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