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Victor Frankenstein review

This article contains spoilers

Despite being written nearly 200 years ago, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is still one of the most famous horror stories known today. Its popularity clearly has not decreased, judging by the movie adaptations that are still being made. One of the most recent adaptations of this story is Victor Frankenstein, starring James McAvoy as Victor and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor.

When so many adaptations of the same story have already been made, it is hard to come up with something new. In that sense, Victor Frankenstein is an interesting take on the main character of Shelley’s novel. This film is definitely not a retelling of the original story, but instead an interpretation of the character that can sometimes be overlooked. The film starts with the following words: “You know this story. A crack of lightning. A mad genius. An unholy creation. The world of course remembers the monster, not the man. But sometimes, when you look closely, there’s more to a tale. Sometimes the monster is the man”. These words will appeal to anyone who has had to explain to someone that Frankenstein is the man, not the monster. They serve to introduce the fact that the focus of this film will be on the life of Victor Frankenstein himself.

The story is told from the perspective of Igor, a hunchback who is saved from his entrapment by the circus when Victor Frankenstein discovers his intelligence and fascination for human anatomy. Victor sees in him the perfect assistant to aid him in his plans to create life from death. Most of the film focuses on their journey to bring body parts to life while a detective (Andrew Scott) keeps a close eye on them and tries to find out what they are doing. Their first creation is an ape-like figure, which they manage to bring to life using electricity. During a presentation at Victor’s university, however, the creature starts a rampage and ends up having to be killed. They do manage to impress Finnegan, a wealthy student who asks them to create something even greater: a man. At this point, Igor thinks Victor has gone too far, partly influenced by his romance with Lorelei, a circus girl whose life he saved. They part ways and the film culminates with the creation of ‘Prometheus’ and some final revelations about Victor’s intentions.

As mentioned before, do not expect to see Mary Shelley’s original story in this film. There are many differences, the most important one being the inclusion of the character of Igor. This character is often included in retellings of Frankenstein, despite not featuring in the novel. His presence here works to increase the madness that is Victor Frankenstein, as he remains very mysterious throughout the film. On the other hand, although the film is centered around Victor, we find out very little about him. It is only at the end that we learn more about his backstory and why he is so obsessed with creating life. As the most important character, he could have been explored more.

As literature students, we have a tendency to judge films that are not true to their literary origins, but Victor Frankenstein is an interesting watch if you can set those thoughts aside. It can be a bit slow at times, but I would say the ending is worth waiting for. There is also the inclusion of a romance between Igor and Lorelei, which does not add much to the story and seems a bit forced. Be prepared for some gory body parts being stitched together and brought to life, but overall the film provides an interesting take on the famous horror story we all know and love.

By Linda Boutellier