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Frankenstein is an American gothic-horror film released in 1994 and directed by Kenneth Branagh. It is an adaptation of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus and is sometimes billed as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The film was produced by Francis Ford Coppola's production company American Zoetrope along with Columbia TriStar Pictures. Kenneth Branagh also stars in the film in the lead role of Victor Frankenstein. The Monster is played by Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro. Of all the Frankenstein films that have been made over the years, it is the most faithful theatrically released adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel to date.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Victor and Elizabeth Frankenstein.

The film begins in the year 1794. Captain Robert Walton leads a daring expedition to reach the North Pole. While their ship is trapped in the ice of the Arctic Sea, Walton and his men discover a man traveling across the Arctic on his own. In the distance, a loud moaning can be heard. When the man sees how obsessed Walton is with reaching the North Pole he asks, "Do you share my madness?" The man then reveals that his name is Victor Frankenstein and begins his tale.

The film flashes back to Victor's childhood in Geneva as the son of the wealthy Baron and Caroline Frankenstein. At one point in his childhood Victor's parents adopted Elizabeth, who would become the love of Victor's life.

Years later Victor's mother dies giving birth to his brother William. Sometime before going off to the university at Ingolstadt, a grief-stricken Victor vows on his mother's grave that he will find a way to conquer death. On the night of his graduation Victor and Elizabeth promised to wed when Victor returns from his studies.

At university, Victor's previous studies with the works of alchemists such as Paracelsus, Albertus Magnus, and Cornelius Agrippa make him unpopular with certain professors. However he finds a friend in Henry Clerval and a mentor in Professor Waldman. Victor comes to believe that the only way to cheat death is to create life. At this point Professor Waldman tells Victor not to follow through with his theory; he tested it once, but he ended his experiments because they resulted in an "abomination."

While performing vaccinations, Professor Waldman is murdered by a patient who thinks the doctors are trying to poison him. After Waldman was buried, Victor breaks into Waldman's laboratory, takes Waldman's notes on the experiments, and starts using them to work on his own creation.

Victor spends months in his apartment working on creating a living, breathing creature. Using dead body parts from various sources he begins piecing a creature together. Victor is so obsessed with his work that not even a cholera outbreak tears him from it. Late one night Victor finally gives his creation life, but he recoils from it in horror and renounces his experiments.

Robert De Niro as the Creature.

That night the creature escapes Victor's apartment, running off to the wildnerness. He spends months hiding in the woods, living in an unwitting family's barn. As time progresses the creature learns to read and speak. Eventually the creature tries to win the family's love, but his efforts are in vain. Through the journal the creature finds in the coat that he took from Victor's apartment he learns of the circumstances of his creation and that Frankenstein is responsible. He then burns down the family's abandoned cottage and heads to Geneva, vowing revenge on his creator.

Victor, who believes his creation destroyed, returns to Geneva with the intent of marrying Elizabeth. He finds there that his little brother William has been murdered. Justine Moritz, a servant of the Frankenstein household, is framed for the crime and hanged. That night Victor is approached by his creation, who tells him to meet him on the mountain. Realizing that the creature murdered his brother, Victor goes with the intent on destroying his creation, but is no match for his enhanced speed and strength.

Rather than killing his creator, the creature insists instead that Victor make him a bride. If he does this, then he promises to quit humanity forever with Victor never having to see him ever again. To ensure the safety of the rest of his family, Victor begins gathering the tools he used to create life, but when the creature insists he use Justine's body to make the bride, Victor breaks his promise. Enraged, the creature once more vows revenge, saying, "If you deny me my wedding night, I will be with you on yours!"

Victor and Elizabeth are married. En route to their honeymoon, Victor and Elizabeth are flanked by body guards. Meanwhile Victor's father dies while the creature watches over him. That night Victor takes every precaution to defend his new family, but the creature finds them anyway and kills Elizabeth by ripping out her heart. Victor comes back to find the monster throw Elizabeth's body off the bed and crack her head open on the night desk, then fleeing out the window amidst gunfire.

Victor races home to bring Elizabeth back to life. Repulsed by what he intends to do, Henry tries to stop him. Victor argues that his father would have done the same for his mother. After Henry tells him that Baron Frankenstein is dead, Victor believes there is nothing left to lose. "Nothing but your soul," Henry replies.

After a gruesome operation that involved stitching Elizabeth's head back together and to Justine's body, Victor succeeds in giving, "Elizabeth" life. At this point the creature enters the room, thinking that this bride is for him. The two begin fighting over her, when "Elizabeth," horrified by her hideous appearance, burns herself alive, setting fire to the whole mansion.

The story returns to the Arctic Circle. Victor tells Walton that he has been pursuing his creation for months with the intent of killing him. Soon after relating his story, Victor succumbs to pneumonia and dies. After a word with his crew, Walton hears a noise coming from the room he left Frankenstein's body in. There they find the creature, weeping over his creator's dead body. They take Frankenstein's body and prepare a funeral pyre for him. The ceremony is interrupted when the ice around the ship begins to crack. The creature takes the torch and finishes the ceremony, burning himself alive with his creator's body. Walton, having seen the result of Frankenstein's obsession, puts his own aside and orders the ship to return home.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This is one of the few film versions of Frankenstein that actually takes the Bride of Frankenstein into account. In Branagh's film, the Bride of Frankenstein is literally the wife of Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza-Frankenstein. In all other versions of the story, the Bride is simply a reanimated corpse comprised of body parts of random women. In some tellings, body parts from Justine Moritz is used in the making of the Bride. Other films that have included the Bride are The Bride of Frankenstein and 1985's The Bride.

Production[edit | edit source]

  • Filmed at Shepperton Studios in England. Location shots were filmed in the Swiss Alps, Switzerland. [4]

Home Video[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]


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