What do Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein have in common? A director, it seems.
Paul McGuigan, who directed episodes of BBC’s Sherlock, is partnering with Max Landis and Twentieth Century Fox to make a film version of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein. Whether you plodded through the book in school (or looked it up on Sparknotes) or enjoyed it on your own for its gripping intensity, you should be excited for this movie.
The character of Frankenstein, like Sherlock Holmes, has so many adaptations that it will take a master re-creator to bring this monster to life for modern audiences. If anyone can do it, McGuigan likely can. In Sherlock, he helped recreate a character so familiar and so frequently adapted that I put off watching the show, despite friends’ assurances of its awesomeness.
So McGuigan understands good adaptations. And with Frankenstein, rumor has it that writer Max Landis kept a finger wedged in a copy of Shelley’s novel while penning the script, indicating that the film, like the book, may be set in 19th-century Switzerland. But there are also reports of sci-fi revisionism, so for now, much is speculative.
As a fans of the book, we're hoping to see several elements in this movie:
1. Frankenstein, looking like Frankenstein.
James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein flick shaped our image of the monster—green-skinned, sparse-haired with bolts in his neck and gnarly scars on his otherwise fairly normal face. Shelley’s monster had thick, long black hair, translucent pallid skin, and a face so hideous that it defied imagination. I don’t necessarily want to be closing my eyes the whole time, but I hope this movie avoids the camp and brings the realistic grit of the novel.
2. The Switzerland setting.
Confession—it’s been a while since we’ve read the book. But the sharp Alps and grassy clearings of Switzerland remain vivid in our memory and integral to the original plot progression. Swiss footage in this movie would be simply epic.
3. The universal themes.
Many adaptations of Frankenstein can be summed up thus: monster=bad, people=innocent, oh no—bad monster kill people, people kill monster, yay. The single fact that Shelley gave Victor Frankenstein and his monster the same name suggests her interest in the complexities of human nature, good, and evil. We all can handle a movie that stimulates the old gray matter a bit, don't you think?
What do you want to see in the new Frankenstein movie?