Review: Frankenstein – The True Story
Blu-ray & DVD: Frankenstein – The True Story (1973)
There have been many versions made of Mary Shelley’s literary classic over the years, but this 2 part mini-series has always been one of my favourites, with its 3 hour running time giving breathing space to expand upon the characters and their motivations…and what a great cast there is playing the characters.
James Mason (possessing one of the best voices in cinematic history) as the duplicitous Dr. Polidori commands every scene that he is in, while Leonard Whiting as Victor Frankenstein elicits empathy from the viewer as his initial enthusiasm for raising the dead is soon tempered by the realisation that he has, quite literally, created a monster.
Michael Sarrazin plays a very different “Frankenstein’s monster” to most that have been portrayed onscreen, his almost angellike features immediately giving a false sense of hope to Victor, while at the same time throwing the viewer off guard momentarily as he appears to be a normal man.
However, once the transformation begins from “man” to “monster”, it is shown more by the actions of both the monster and those who meet him, rather than by heavy prosthetic effects, leaving the practical make-up to little more than making him look like he has a particularly bad hangover with a few skin blemishes.
Director Jack Smight does nothing flashy, but crafts a solid visual world, with the production design giving everything a “Hammeresque” look that always appeals to me, along with moments of gore that are also reminiscent of Hammer.
Flowing throughout the entire narrative is a sense of impending doom, growing ever stronger as the monster becomes more ostracised by society and his body begins to decay, along with a homoerotic subtext, that while never fully coming to fruition, is always bubbling just under the surface.
The release date was put back for the addition of a commentary track by Filmmaker/Film Historian Sam Irvin, and while it is a little too dry and stilted for my tastes, it still adds a lot to the backstory of both the making of this movie and the story it is based on.
Frankenstein: The True Story is not mentioned as much as the Boris Karloff or Hammer versions of the story, but definitely holds its own against all of them.
- Film Introduction from James Mason
- Off with Her Head – An Interview with Jane Seymour
- Victor’s Story- An Interview with Actor Leonard Whiting
- Frankenstein’s Diary- A Conversation with Writer Don Bachardy
- Audio Commentary With Filmmaker/Film Historian Sam Irvin
- A Double-Sided Fold Out Poster of the All New Graham Humphreys Artwork
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by Fabulous Films.