Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 4K UHD
4K UHD Blu-ray: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)
Based on the 1818 book by Mary Shelley, Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein does cram more of her original story in than the other 100 odd films featuring the name Frankenstein (mostly not about the doctor, but rather the ‘monster’).
Arrow’s re-release on glorious 4K of the 1994 film lets us see (and hear) how sumptuous the production was, from the North Pole to the magnificently topless and amniotic-fluid doused, topless Branagh. It’s colourful and swirls and twirls like a Tim Burton film (Helena Bonham Carter hadn’t met him yet).
I suppose all films reflect the time they’re made in and this is no different. Cloning? And…medical…stuff. No. Nothing is really addressed and it’s just very frilly and day-glow gothic.
We get to see Victor Frankenstein’s idyllic childhood. His mother (Cherie Lunghi) dies in childbirth leaving his father (Ian Holm) bereft. Victor falls in love with his adopted sister (Helena Bonham Carter) then goes away to Germany to become a doctor. Here he meets fellow student Henry Clerval (Tom Hulce) and teacher Professor Waldman (John Cleese, whose teeth are a terrible distraction), who brings the dead… back to …life.
This gallops along without a second to catch its breath and at times it sounds like the dialogue is speeded up to get to get to the revelation of the creation (lots of swooping and rope pulling) of the ‘monster’ or here – ‘Creature’, and the reveal of the actor playing him/it…Robert De Niro.
Back in the day I remember it being of huge import that a distinguished actor such as De Niro would play this part. Despite his brooding and intensity, he is so wrong in this part. Obviously covered in a lot of prosthetics, his menace isn’t hammy and although he does swoop and swirl in his heavy coat a few times, it’s almost as if he’s in another film, which isn’t aided by letting him speak in a New York accent.
Now all this sounds negative, and this definitely is NOT the ‘serious’ attempt to tell Shelley’s story, I think Branagh hoped it would be, however, all the running up and down palatial staircases swirling capes, breathless dialogue, Cleese’s teeth and a shirtless ripped Bryonesque Branagh, make for a florescent-Gothic (is that a thing? It is now) film that is a hoot to watch. I love it, and along with a jam packed box of extras Arrow has knocked it out of the ball park again. I would have loved a commentary from Branagh or even writer Frank Darabont, but that would be unlikely as Frank said of the film – “the best script I ever wrote and the worst movie I’ve ever seen.”
- New 4K restoration from the original camera negatives by Sony Pictures Entertainment
- 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
- Original uncompressed stereo audio and DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Brand new audio commentary by film historians Michael Brooke and Johnny Mains
- Brand new interview with composer Patrick Doyle
- Brand new interview with costumer designer James Acheson
- Brand new interview with make-up designer Daniel Parker
- Mary Shelley and The Creation of a Monster, a brand new documentary featurette on the origins and evolution of the Frankenstein story, featuring Gothic specialists David Pirie, Jonathan Rigby and Stephen Volk
- Dissecting Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a brand new featurette with David Pirie, Jonathan Rigby and Stephen Volk on the differences between the novel and Kenneth Branagh’s screen adaptation
- Frankenstein: A Liberal Adaptation from Mrs. Shelley’s Famous Story for Edison Production (1910): The first screen adaptation of Shelley’s story in a 2K restoration by the Library of Congress, with music by Donald Sosin
- Original trailers
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Laz Marquez
First Pressing Only:
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Jon Towlson and Amy C. Chambers.
Released 28th March 2022.
Review by Tina from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films via fetch Publicity.