the novel's influence on cinema: warholian decadence and a disney prince
flesh for frankenstein
andy warhol's vision of the frankenstein story bears several notable differences from the original narrative. in this lush retelling of the story, we can clearly see that victor does not gather the limbs and organs from corpses, as shelley describes. instead, the doctor takes on a homicidal persuasion: at :24, he is seen lopping off the head of an attractive man, whom he has cornered in a vineyard. additionally, victor is assisted by another scientist, possibly in the vein of the iconic servant, igor. this is no slight deviation from the novel's details. shelley had the scientist working alone, accompanied by only his books and his instruments, totally free from human temperament and advice: shelley extracts any source of moral code, which may only result by way of one's inclusion in a society. as warhol's version includes another scientist working alongside victor, it may be argued that there was ample opportunity for some reasoned dialogue to occur, or for victor to appreciate and respect his fellow man, either of which may have derailed such a frantic completion of the terrible creature. further, it is difficult to miss the fact that both creatures--because warhol envisioned the simultaneous completion of a male and a female creature--are strikingly handsome. the combination of attractive organisms and the biologically natural pairing introduces raw heterosexuality, which was absolutely not present in shelley's original. this new tension is realized at : 30, when the creatures' first actions were to reach for one another, and at :32, when the female kisses the male on the cheek.
blood for dracula
as an entertaining addition, enjoy a trailer for blood for dracula, also a warhol retelling. these two films were often paired together as co-feature films, intended to be seen back-to-back. they were made using many of the same actors and sets, and have similar aesthetic qualities and themes, including ample gore and raw sexuality (this time in the form of group lesbianism, rape scenes, and a thirst for virgins). additionally, just as the protagonists in flesh for frankenstein were the subjects of re-imagination, so it is with count dracula in warhol's remake. in the clip below, the count is seen as a character who does not merit much clout, as he is told where in western europe to move, and he sobs openly at 1:20, bemoaning his inability to find virginal prey. warhol's image of the legendary vampire is significantly more impishpitiful than in stoker's original telling, in which he is notably beastial, yet extremely learned and proud. and
wikipedia hosts an image of the poster made for the film flesh for frankenstein. in the center of the picture just under the title, victor is seen leaning over his creature, just before the being is brought to life. the doctor adopts a posture that is distinctly nurturing, but which recalls a classic image that is decidedly more loving.
disney's sleeping beauty depicts a love story between a handsome prince and a lovely young girl who, having been cursed by an evil spell, has fallen into a sleep that can only be broken by the kiss of her one true love. the position of the prince and the girl just before the kiss seems eerily familiar.
although an intentional connection is not necessarily provable, the warhol poster reveals a slightly different motive for frankenstein's creation of the monster when viewed through the lens of the relationship of the other two cinema characters who famously adopt that leaning-lying position. if the stories are seen to be somehow parallel, frankenstein may be understood to be "awakening" a being who is supposed to be his match. thus, instead of the assembly and animation being solely scientific advances, they may be viewed as personal, nearly romantic (although not sexualized) ones.
goya's caprichos #43 - the sleep of reason produces monsters
goya's 43rd drawing from his caprichos collection allows for multiple interpretations of both its title and its image. first, as the narrator in the video below explains, "to dream" and "to sleep" are derived from the same spanish word, and a slightly different connotation is offered by each translation. the title may mean that a cessation of reason--whenever reason is put to rest--produces monsters: in other words, constant maintenance of and appeal to rationality is the only way to control one's sanity. alternatively, it may mean that when reason is allowed to reign during a dream--that is, when the mind is free of emotion, compassion, or community considerations--terrible things can be invented.
either of these interpretations may be related to victor frankenstein's struggles in shelley's novel. victor's inability to act rationally in order to destroy or control the creature allows it to escape and eventually to kill, gain knowledge, and set off in the world. similarly, considering the second translation of the piece's title, victor was never concerned with the pragmatic outcomes of the creature's animation, aside from gaining fame or framing the advance as medical technology. if he had been more introspective and compassionate before pursuing his invention, victor may have realized that he was neither being a responsible scientist nor having a positive influence on the community, and he may have reconsidered his plan. however, because rationality--whose proxy in the novel is science in general--dominates, victor's "dream" comes true in the form of a "monster".