Last time we had a sort of general look at Metropolis, as it relates to early  Frankenstein cinema. It's a big subject, and honestly I'm not going to cover all of it even with a supplementary essay, but I did want a closer look at two things. Firstly, religious symbolism and secondly the role of women in Fritz Lang's Metropolis and James Whale's Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein.

Can I get an amen?

The novel Frankenstein is fascinating in that it is full of conscious religious imagery, but contains little sign of God's actual presence. The Monster is compared frequently to both Adam and Satan. Both are creations that rebel against their creator, with the difference being that neither of them is a match for God. The Monster is a match for Frankenstein. This is why the various attempts to make Frankenstein into a Christian parable tend to be perfunctory. A story in which a being, angry at its creator is able to stand eye to eye with that creator is simply unprecedented in the Bible. Imagine if Job could just get tired of arguing with God and kick him in the shins. Completely different story.

This, ultimately, is the point of not only Frankenstein, but a huge chunk of the whole science fiction genre: how do we deal with the themes and ideas invoked by religion without invoking God? ...continue reading "Metropolis – 1927 (Part 2)"

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This is going to be a short review of a strange movie. It's the first ever film version of Mary Shelley's novel and it's… special. Historically, it's much less of a big deal than the 1931 version. James Whale's Frankenstein created much of the modern iconography of Frankenstein – the stitched together body, the slab, the lightning.

The Monster discovers that it can't hail a taxi in Frankenstein's living room.
The Monster discovers that it can't hail a taxi in Frankenstein's living room.

The 1910 version has none of this. It's based to some degree on the stage tradition of Frankenstein, which often had Frankenstein create the Monster through alchemical means. This is not completely at odds with the novel, in which Victor is inspired as much by alchemical thinkers as by contemporary science. What it meant in terms of staging is that the actor playing the Monster often made his appearance springing out of a huge cauldron, and something similar happens here. ...continue reading "Frankenstein -1910"

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