The Bride Of Frankenstein
We’re back to the more traditional horror film today, with James Whale’s 1935 sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein. A film that takes what was good from the first, expands it and arguably comes out even better.
There’s not much to say about the story of Frankenstein or the monster’s character that I didn’t say in my post on the original. In this film, however, the Monster gains further emotion, a sense of friendship and love and is therefore an even more enjoyable and identifiable character for us. Karloff reprises his role as the Monster in true Karloff style, wonderfully…giving us arguably a more advanced performance than he did in the first, with the addition of some minor speech as the Monster learns to communicate.
Colin Clive also reprises his role as Henry Frankenstein and brings the same goods he brought in the first, however his character in this film is not as memorable as he was in the first…despite being the exact same person. Elsa Lanchester gives a short but memorable performance as the Bride and is pretty much the female equivalent of Karloff…we’ll get onto her performance slightly more later. Other notable performances come from Ernest Thesiger as Dr. Pretorius, a slightly insane man who, himself, has been carrying out experiments to create life, however he requires the assistance of a highly reluctant Henry in order to complete his work and from O.P Heggie as an old, blind hermit who befriends the Monster, not being able to see him for what he looks like and adds to a series of truly beautiful scenes involving him and the Monster interacting…a simple and beautiful message of depth of personality also.
As far as narrative goes, it’s got rather more than the original as the story goes off into two parrellel stories that come together. We begin the film in the stately house of Mary Shelley, the author herself, who explains to Lord Byron and Percy Shelley that the monster did in fact survive the original film and proceeds to tell them the story of this. We then are back at the end of the first film, as the windmill famously burns down. We see everyone vacate the area when it is over apart from 3 people…the father of the girl that the monster accidentally killed in the first film, his wife and Frankenstein’s servent, Minnie. The father insists on seeing the monster’s burnt corpse and goes into the debris in search despite his wife’s reluctance. He then falls down a hole into a flooded cavern below the mill in which The Monster rises from the water and kills the man and also his wife. Minnie manages to get away and hysterically screams to all the villagers that the Monster is still on the loose…she is not believed.
Henry and his new wife Elizabeth now simply seek a life of peace before Dr. Pretorius, an old professor of Henry, attempts to convince him to continue his experiments alongside him. During which time, the Monster, now loose, is captured yet manages to escape his prison and finds solace at the home of the blind hermit, whom he befriends. I can’t say enough how heartwarming these scenes are. All is looking perfect for the Monster before two men arrive at the hermit’s home, recognise the monster and in an attempt to capture him, burn down the house, leaving the Monster on the loose again. Purely by chance, he comes across Pretorius who convinces the Monster to kidnap Elizabeth to force Henry to continue his work, thus The Bride is created. Lanchester’s Bride, rather heartbreakingly, rejects Karloff’s monster, hissing at him in horror which causes him to act rashly…he frees the Frankensteins and destroys the tower, with himself, the Bride and Pretorius inside.
Apologies for going into such detail with the plot…I guess I got carried away. As far as emotional value goes, this film is incredible. You tend not to think of Horrors as emotional films, at least in a heartbreaking and heartwarming way, yet this film is both and further contributes to the love that the Monster has been shown throughout the many decades since its release.
Again, a beautiful horror film, keeping the same atmosphere as the first but expanding on the themes, messages and plot to create a widely considered superior. The title of ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ is misleading however, prior to first watch, I thought this film would be about the Bride herself and her struggle to accustom to a new life, very similar to the first. I was pleasantly surprised however that the film was more about the developing emotions of the Monster and his desire for a bride (or even a friend), something which we can all identify with.
The Bride of Frankenstein hits closer to home than you’d expect and it’s fantastic for doing that. While still keeping the horror elements and the atmosphere of the original there, this one offers much more depth.
It can’t have been an easy job for James Whale to fit so many different elements into such a short film (72mins) but damn he does it well.
‘Bride’ is another must watch for any horror fan and I’m sure any movie fan would find it touching yet horrifying, heartbreaking yet eerie and it takes a special film to do that!!
Sadly, it’s the last Karloff film tomorrow but not the last Universal classic. It’s from the same year and also stars Mr. Bela Lugosi, adapted from a story by Edgar Allan Poe.
Let me know your thoughts on this film in the comments and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any inquiries or suggestions for improvements to posts!
The Journey Continues Tomorrow