Creator becoming the creature

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1 diciembre, 2012 por jesusfgarciareyes

Laura Urbina

There must be a creation, and a creator, in the first place. It does not matter if the creation is abominable; it is not always a proper monster.  Secondly, the creation must question its existence, although this not always happens. The creation must be conscious of its own being, it must be able to realize what is it that surrounds him, even though, it cannot understand it at all. And, at last but not least, the future of the creator is almost always affected somehow by the creation. These are the three characteristics I consider to be the most important ones, in order to be a rewrite of Frankenstein.

It is said, and well known, that Victor Frankenstein is called the modern Prometheus[1]. This is true, because they both played to be god, and they both got punished for it; Prometheus with eternal torture, and Victor with pain; all his world crushed down, getting as lonely as the monster, suffering its same fate.

This specific situation is noticed a lot in the first Frankenstein rewrite I want to mention. A movie called Dark City. In here, the place is dominated by non-human beings, called Strangers, who seek human soul formula. They have a special ability, called tuning, which consists in changing the world they are controlling, while everybody in the city is asleep. Now and then, someone wakes up, but this is not a very often thing, and not everybody can take what they see. John Murdoch is one of those people who wake up. Not only can he see how they change the city, but he can also tune. Here is the Prometheus situation. The tuning ability is supposed to be only for the Strangers, and no one else. This is fire. When John defeats the strangers, he uses his tuning ability to make things better, to change their world for good. That is Prometheus, returning fire to humanity.

Adaptations and rewrites

Most of the adaptations of Frankenstein stick to the real story, like the 1931 and 1994 versions, but no one ever goes beyond Victor, Elizabeth and Henry, but a few movies, I casually found one. It is called Tender Son[2]where there is a monster, a creator, and many people who suffered because of the creation.

James Marsh is a film director who studied at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. He is known for directing the cult film Wisconsin Death Trip. He won 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for directing Man on Wire.
When it screened in Cannes last year critics were not kind to the film, complaining that it had stripped the nuance from Shelley’s novel by presenting an antagonist with no clear back-story or motivation and making the monster into a real man had ironically robbed the character of his humanity. However I reacted very differently to what Mundruczo was trying to do and enjoyed the way he took the basic framework of the book’s second half and slipped it into his film almost unnoticed.

The prospect of re-imagining Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein against the wintry backdrop of modern day Budapest immediately drew me to this French/Hungarian co-production that I had otherwise heard nothing about. But this is no horror film and eschews anything remotely concerned with reanimation of the dead, God complexes or allusions to James Whale or Boris Karloff.  Tender Son focuses more on the second half of Shelley’s gothic classic – an abandoned son returning home to reconnect with a family that has forsaken him, with brutal and horrifying consequences.

Tender son beautifully captures that East European aesthetic of a once-opulent society in decay. It is certainly not a film for everyone and the pacing will try the patience of those looking for Universal or Hammer style thrills, but that said, I went in expecting some kind of gritty, suburban body horror and although what I got was nothing of the sort, I came out suitably chilled.

James Marsh

Other rewritings are, besides from Dark City, Robocop, Stranger than Fiction and Fringe, but just one episode; “Marionette”. All of these I consider rewrites, because they have a lot of Frankenstein’s elements. They all have the monster created one way or another, the creator, and almost the same creator-monster situation.

Relationship between the monster and the creator

All of this rewritings have what I consider to be the tree main characteristics; creator-monster, the future of the creator being disturbed, and the monster searching for answers about its world.

This happens in Stranger than Fiction. At first, I believed Karen Eiffel had not created Harold, because he already existed, he was a real person, and she did nothing but narrate. But, precisely in this, lies the reason of why she, in fact, created him. Before Karen started narrating Harold, he lead a monotonous life of almost complete solitude. As the story of Karen moved further, and when he knew her intentions of killing him, he started seeing life differently. His life changed completely. And not only that. When he shows himself to her, and she notices she was just about to end his life, she gets disturbed. She starts wondering how many lives has she ended so far, in her other books. Harold affects Karen.

In Dark City, there is not much to say. The Strangers, all along with Dr. Schroeber, are the creators, changing lives, and memories, is nothing but the idea of The Strangers, but it is Dr. Schroeber the one who acts.  John Murdoch also wants to figure out what is it with that place, why does no one remember much things, and who are those funny looking beings that make everyone sleep. He questions that world; he does not understand a single thing.

Robocop also shows how the same thing Dick Jones created, is the same thing that can destroy him. Also, he knows he was not just a robot before. He can perceive he had feelings and a normal life.

Tooled from spare hardware—the trunk and limbs of a forklift, the rubberized joints of a vacuum cleaner, and the brain of a police officer—Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop character is a Terminator with the conscience of a constable, a Frankenstein gone cyberpunk.
Carrie Rickey, film critic.
Paul Verhoeven actually turned down the offer to direct the film until his wife, more attuned to the script’s subtext, explained to him that it was essentially a Frankenstein story-in her words- “That of the robot-man seeking his own life”.

The suicide girl from Fringe, Amanda, is the only exception I have so far, regarding the search of her own life. She is the only one that does not question herself, or her world, for the simple reason, that she does not have the capacity to do that. When she is reanimated, she is just a living organism with no soul. The madman that restored her to life now regrets what he has just done, he wanted the girl back, but he could only reanimate the body.

Sarah Stegall, independent author of novels like Orpheus, and Deus ex Machina, analyzed the episode Marionette.

Roland, the madman and Victor have in common the massive egotism of the mad, but their motivations are different. While Victor Frankenstein wanted to create a new race, and assembled his creature higgledy-piggledy out of different people, Roland only wanted one person back: Amanda. By using her own body parts he counteracts any rejection issues, and his stitchery is considerably finer than Frankenstein’s. The result is a girl with scars, to be sure, but a more or less presentable puppet. For that is, literally, what he makes her. Roland rigs Amanda’s reassembled corpse up in a series of levers and pulleys, so that he can manipulate her in a genuine danse macabre. This is not enough to fuel his fantasy, however, so he applies the traditional electric shocks. Like the Creature in the book, she gasps, opens her eyes, convulses. But when Roland looks into her eyes, he sees that no one is home. The body may live, but the soul is long gone. In despair, he weeps.

So, most of the relationships between the creations and the creator are kind of the same, but what about the conflict between the monster and the society?

Society and monster, conclusion

There is a great contrast between the books and the rewrites; we can notice that in the novel, society treats the monster horribly; people despise him because of his appearance. They think he is dangerous. That’s why the monster acts the way it does, we cannot blame him.

In the rewrites, on the contrary, the monster fits in society; Harold Crick has a good job, a girlfriend, and friends. John Murdoch has a wife –it does not matter the strangers keep mixing memories, she is being presented to the audience as his wife- friends, and family. Robocop has job Partners that care for him, though he is not an actual person. Even Amanda, the girl in Fringe has someone that cares about her so much, that reanimates her.

I believe that my conclusion is spreaded all over this essay. Adaptations stick to the story, rewrites have a similar relationship between the monster and the society, monsters are well treated. There is also a similar relationship between the creator and the monster, because the creation always affects the creator’s future. In a certain way, I think most of the creators mentioned in the rewrites, regret creating those creatures, because they are affected somehow later. I would dare to say, that creators end up hating their creations in a monstrous way.

Works cited page.


-Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Arcturus, 2009. (Print)

-Alvar Ezquerra, Jaime. Mitología universal. Espasa, 2000. (Print)


[1] Prometheus is part of the Greek mythology. He is the son of a titan named Japeto, and a nymph called Asia, although some people say his mother is actually a human, Climene. A long time ago, he was considered the creator of mankind, which he molded with clay. But, in the latest, and, more known version, Prometheus appears as the benefactor of humanity, which he constantly favored in front of the gods, by tricking Zeus. Prometheus managed the Supreme God to choose for himself the fat and the bones of the sacrificed animals. This way, flesh would go to humans. Enraged by Prometheus’s attitude, Zeus retired the fire men used to cook meat, and other stuff. However, Prometheus robbed some embers, returning fire to humanity. As a punishment for his behavior, Zeus sent Pandora against men and chained Prometheus in mount Caucasus. An eagle devoured his liver every day, but as soon as the first stars appeared, the lost organ would grow back again. Heracles released Prometheus from this eternal punishment, killing with his arrow the eagle, and unchaining Prometheus.

[2] Kornél Mundruczó directs this movie. It is about a boy returns home from the institution where he grew up, but finds he is not welcome there. He fights to win the love of his family but ends up murdering them.



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