Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Frankenstein can be found here.

While on an expedition to reach the North Pole, Captain Robert Walton (Aidan Quinn) comes across a man fleeing across the ice, trying to escape whatever is creating a loud moaning in the distance. Walton gives shelter to the man, who introduces himself as Victor Frankenstein (Kenneth Branagh) and who begins to relate to him a terrifying story. As a promising young medical student but devastated by the early death of his mother during childbirth, Victor created a new life by sewing together body parts from various corpses and reanimating them with electricity. His nameless creation (Robert De Niro) escaped from the laboratory but found himself feared and shunned wherever he went. Vowing revenge on his 'father', the creature forced Victor to create a female like him, promising to take his 'bride' to the far north where they could live together outside of human society. When Victor failed to follow through, however, the monster renewed his revenge by taking the life of Victor's bride, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter).

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is based on the 1818 novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by 19-year old British author Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley [1797-1851].

At the beginning of the movie, the captain makes it clear that he wants to reach the North Pole even at the expense of his crew's lives because of the fame it will bring to his name. He wants to be seen as 'the benefactor of our species.' After hearing Frankenstein's story, in which his hope to benefit the whole of mankind resulted in his whole world falling apart around him, the captain began to think twice about continuing on with the 'madness'.

His story completed, Victor closes his eyes and dies. Their ship still stuck in the ice, the captain decides that they will continue heading north, against the wishes of the crew who are on the verge of mutiny. Suddenly, a moan is heard coming from the cabin where Victor lies. The captain and first mate open the door to find Frankenstein's creature sitting at his bedside, weeping. 'Why do you weep?' the captain asks. 'He was my father,' the creature replies. Shortly thereafter, Victor is laid to rest on a pyre. Just as they are about to light it, the ice begins breaking up beneath them, and the crew rush to the safety of their ship. The captain invites the creature to go with them, but he refuses. 'I'm done with man,' he says. He grabs the torch and swims with it to the ice floe bearing Victor's pyre. While the crew watches, the creature lights the pyre, encompassing both Victor and himself in the flames. In the final scene, the first mate asks, 'Where to now, captain?' and the captain replies, 'Home.'

Viewers who have both read Shelley's novel and seen the movie consider it closer to the novel than most other adaptations, e.g., Universal Studios' Frankenstein Frankenstein (1931). By and large, it is a relatively faithful adaption, though the movie still takes a lot of liberties, despite what the title might lead one to assume. In the book, for example, Victor's mother dies not in childbirth but from scarlet fever, and the role of Waldman is greatly expanded in this movie into much more of a mentor figure (it is also worth noting that he is not murdered in the book, and as such, the monster does not possess his brain). The monster, as he appears in this film, also differs greatly from the physical description supplied by Shelley. In the book, the cottagers the monster observes are not married, but are actually brother and sister, and he learns to speak by listening to Felix teaching his Turkish wife. The movie also omits Victor's travels across the UK as he works on the monster's bride, as well as Clerval's murder at the monster's hands. Arguably, the biggest difference is the movie's ending. In the novel, Elizabeth/Justine is not reanimated, and the monster does not die.

Stories can have different meanings to different viewers, but the four most commonly mentioned central themes to Frankenstein seem to be: (1) the importance of considering the consequences of one's actions, (2) society's inhumanity towards man, (3) the futility of revenge, and (4) the importance of paternal responsibility.


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