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Looking at the Monster: Frankenstein and the Film
Transcript of Looking at the Monster: Frankenstein and the Film
Looking at the Monster: Frankenstein and Film
James A. W. Heffernan
Taught English, European Romanticism, and Poetry @ Dartmouth
Wrote a few books on "picturacy" and literature
Editor for book reviewing (Review 19)
Films do not completely encapsulate the novel, but still portrays the different aspects the novel cannot show
The animation within films can physically show the monster’s appearance and his physical attribute
Some scenes are only given as descriptions of what happened
The monster is a monster, he needs to be SHOWN as a monster
Films can go beyond this blindness and show what is actually there.
Visuals can create tension and scare the audience more
He believes that language is the best way to communicate interactions physically, mentally, and emotionally. Film can do a similar job, but is not as effective.
His theory is that both films and novels can compliment each other to create a broader and greater understanding of the situation/story as a whole.
Although he uses many intertextual references, critical dialogues are not utilized
Heffernan concludes the argument for his thesis by explaining the pros and cons of the recreated Frankenstein films. He doesn’t give future areas of research, but discusses the areas that have already been analyzed (to recap).
The films of Frankenstein can deliver the visuals, sounds, and the impactful presence of the story and its monster in an effective way where novels may lack.
The monster is artificially reproduced physically in films, which affects his personality and the way others see him
The creature is not shown accurately to what the text explains him as
Use of physiognomy
Uses text from Shelley’s novel Frankenstein:
“‘Awake, fairest, thy lover is near--he who would give his life but to obtain one look of affection from thine eyes: my beloved, awake!’” (447).
“Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath” (448).
“The beauty of the dream vanished and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (449).
Does a lot of name-dropping and uses many intertextual references: Peter Brooke’s “What is a Monster,” Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Whale’s Frankenstein, Mel Brooke’s Young Frankenstein (1974)
He uses the different film versions of Frankenstein to give specific examples of different scenes within each film. He also ties in other literary works to further explain his points with examples.
His language is casual: first person narrative and expresses his opinions
The critical text is targeted to people who are intellectual in the novel Frankenstein. Also, it is catered to those who explore other medium of Frankenstein, such as films, other critical texts, and essays.
Very difficult for ordinary Frankenstein casual readers to understand
There are marked divisions in the text--5 different sections. They all have similar ideas, but are separated by the works he discusses.
Strengths: Good examples from text to support thesis and sub-claims, strong arguments enough to change the way we thought about films and their accomplishments, communicated stakes without directly stating them
Weaknesses: Should bring in other critical texts to dispute or analyze others’ opinions on this issue, too much name-dropping, need more content (ideas) and less quotes