Monday, March 18, 2013

Nods To The Originals

While Kenneth Branagh's movie aims for the adaptation of the actual book, and is basically a completely different story, it still uses some ideas and contains few small nods to the James Whale's 1931 movie.
The idea of grave robbing and using corpses was first made popular by the 1931 movie. Also, in both movies, a hanged man is used as one of the bodies. In Branagh's movie however, an additional twist is added, as the Creature is primarily created from a murderer and his victim. The fact that Victor uses a brain of his friend and a person he admired adds an extra dimension.

One of the most famous lines in history of cinema makes its appearance - "It's Alive!", although in Branagh's movie it's expressed as realization, when in Whale's movie it was a yell of triumph. Also, in both movies it's the electricity that is the key ingredient in bringing the Creature to life, however that might simply stem from the novel. In the novel, a "spark" is mentioned as well as galvanism (electrical stimulation of muscles)

In the novel, Victor starts working on a female companion for the Creature, but abandons his work before finishing. It was Whale's "Bride of Frankenstein" that first showed the Frankenstein character, here named Henry, to actually finish his work.


Karloff's Makeup Design Differences

The creation of Boris Karloff's mask, which has become the ultimate image of the Frankenstein Monster, is mainly the work of Universal's chief makeup artist Jack Pierce. Whale, who was also an artist, had drawn sketches of Karloff, which were closely followed by Pierce. Sketches provided by other make-up artists depicted the Monster as an alien, a wild man or a robot, but Pierce and Whale wanted him to have a "pitiful humanity". In 1939 Pierce revealed how he designed the mask:

"I did not depend on imagination. In 1931, before I did a bit of designing, I spent three months of research in anatomy, surgery, medicine, criminal history, criminology, ancient and modern burial customs, and electrodynamics. My anatomical studies taught me that there are six ways a surgeon can cut the skull in order to take out or put in a brain. I figured that Frankenstein, who was a scientist but no practising surgeon, would take the simplest surgical way. He would cut the top of the skull off straight across like a potlid, hinge it, pop the brain in , and then clamp it on tight. That is the reason I decided to make the Monster's head square and flat like a shoe box and dig that big scar across his forehead with the metal clamps holding it together." 

Jack Pierce built an artificial square-shaped skull, like that of "a man whose brain had been taken from the head of another man" . He fixed wire clamps over Karloff's lips, painted his face blue-green, which photographed a corpse-like gray, and glued two electrodes to Karloff's neck. The wax on his eyelids was Karloff's idea. "We found the eyes were too bright, seemed too understanding, where dumb bewilderment was so essential. So I waxed my eyes to make them heavy, half-seeing", Karloff explained.
Pierce's reputation was as bad-tempered, or at least extremely stern, but his relationship with Karloff was a good one. They both cooperated on the design of the now iconic make-up, with Karloff removing a dental plate to create an indentation on one side of the Monster's face. He also endured four hours of make-up under Pierce's hand each day, during which time his head was built up with cotton, collodion and gum, and green greasepaint (designed to look pale on black and white film) was applied to his face and hands. The finished product was universally acclaimed, and has since become the commonly accepted visual representation of Mary Shelley's creation

Universal makeup artist Jack Pierce paid special attention to the Monster's appearance in "Bride Of Frankenstein". He altered his 1931 design to display the after-effects of the mill fire, adding scars and shortening the Monster's hair. Also, the fact that the Monster spoke in this movie meant that Karloff could remove his dental plate, so now his cheeks did not have the sunken look of the original film. The darkened eyeshadows disappeared as well