The story of Frankenstein has been told many times on screen. Some have been great and others have been terrible – this 2004 television fits somewhere in between (possibly nudging towards the former) as it’s a faithful adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic tale.
This three hour mini-series follows oft-told story of Victor Frankenstein and his fascination with life, death and reanimation. The young doctor proceeds to fashion a creation from human body parts, bringing it to life. However, he doesn’t account for the consequences of his actions, especially when The Creature (Luke Goss) begins to show very human traits like fear, anger, jealousy…and revenge.
Shot in Eastern Europe, this Hallmark series looks authentic and it’s also very well cast, with Donald Sutherland, William Hurt and Julie Delpy filling out supporting roles. Hurt in particular seems to be enjoying himself, complete with an eccentric accent that sounds like a blend of Albert Einstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Director Kevin Connor doesn’t aim to turn Shelley’s tale into a horror, it was always more of a grotesque gothic story anyway. Instead he delivers an adaptation that shows that Frankenstein’s creature is more human than monster. This is something which is at the core of the original novel and it’s often overlooked in most screen versions. I guess you can’t have a chilling movie if the monster is too sympathetic.
The narrative of Shelley’s novel covers a lot of ground and so does Connor’s film. In fact, his faithfulness to the original tale is something which hinders this version. This adaptation of Frankenstein at times feels as slow and lumbering as Boris Karloff’s classic Universal monster. It’s epic in length and at times it feels that it is in need of a trim. However, it should be noted again that this mini-series is a pretty accurate adaptation of Shelley’s tale – so why shouldn’t it be lengthy? Frankenstein is a noble effort at translating Mary Shelley’s iconic tale to the screen; it follows the original narrative, making it more of a gothic tragedy than a horror. As long as you know that going in, you shouldn’t be disappointed.