Originally broadcast as a televised movie in 1973, the film has been unavailable in the UK until Second Sight Films DVD release on March 10th 2014. Considering the fact that Frankenstein is one of the most widely adapted texts in literary history, is there anything that makes this particular adaptation worth watching?
As I previously mentioned, the film remains true to certain aspects of the original novel. Unlike in most of the other adaptations, Frankenstein's 'monster' isn't initially all that monstrous. In the novel the monster refers to itself as "an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on", yet in the movie the creature starts as a handsome, charming man, mainly down to wonderful writing (Christopher Isherwood) and equally wonderful acting (Michael Sarrazin).
Talking of acting, this film really does boast an almost monolithic cast of actors, including James Mason, Jane Seymour, Tom Baker, David McCallum and Nicola Pagett. I was particularly mesmerised by David McCallum, whose portrayal of Dr Henry Clerval was amazing. It wasn't all that common for a televised film to boast that kind of roster (unlike some modern shows), so just viewing this list alone should hint at the raw talent contained within this feature.
The film isn't perfect though. Firstly it seems to sometimes lose thematic focus as it jumps between all its many influences (it is hard to find a Frankenstein adaptation that the film doesn't refer to). Secondly, because of the fact that the film comes in two 90 minute parts, the 3 hour running time of the complete feature is a bit too long.
The DVD is well made, with both image and sound quality surprisingly good considering the film's age. There is a lack of special features but because the film is both 3 hours long and thematically so deep, there is plenty to ponder already.
I was genuinely surprised with just how good this film was. It is deep, well written and contains a wealth of acting talent. If you are at all interested in the original text, then I would recommend giving this film a try.
You can purchase the DVD by clicking here.