The Bride (of Frankenstein/Sting)

The Bride Season 2 Episode 6 of The Frankenpod

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As it’s our podcast anniversary we thought it might be nice to return to our origins. But not Frankenstein and his creature but the potential second creature. The woman who raises so many issues of consent, possibly the most culturally visible character to be born out of a few short chapters of a book!

It’s The Bride!

She exists in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein as an ambiguous collection of anatomical parts that are destroyed before she can even achieve personhood. Victor Frankenstein’s creature pressures him into creating a female from the dead just like him. When Frankenstein begins to speculate on the additional damage that a female creature could cause his concerns fall into two major categories

  1. Procreation
  2. The one that most movies featuring the female creation explore her rejection of the original creature

As a result of these fears Victor destroys his second creation in front of his first, which is the final straw for the creature, this is when he vows to be with Victor Frankenstein on his wedding night.

And we never see the female creature again.

She is all potential. And that is what she remained until relatively recently. It wasn’t until the 1930s that James Whale delivers The Bride of Frankenstein and Elsa Lancaster’s brilliant performance gives us the bride as we typically view her today despite various reenvisionings and reimaginings.

This episode we are going to talk about not only the 1935 classic universal monster movie The Bride of Frankenstein but one of those reimaginings. The 1985 movie The Bride starring Jennifer Beals, Clancy Brown and Sting.

Now back to 1935 and The Bride of Frankenstein introduces a framing narrative that we never return to which is Mary Shelley played by Elsa Lanchester telling the rest of the story that happens after the conclusion of her novel Frankenstein to a very camp Byron and Percy Shelley. On a dark and stormy night no lass

The actual story then kicks off at the end of the original 1931 movie Frankenstein. In fact, we have a scattered reframing of the end of Frankenstein to retroactively suit their purposes.

A character named Dr Pretorius calls upon the recovering Frankenstein who has been renamed appropriately Victor as in the book if you remember in the 1931 movie Frankenstein was called Henry.

The creepy doctor Pretorius has a proposition for the young doctor. One last big experiment. A collaboration.

Pretorius also has little people in jars… it’s a whole thing.

Frankenstein’s wife Elizabeth is. Not. Into. This. And she makes this absolutely clear by talking about ominous premonitions.

Meanwhile, the creature who unexpectedly survived goes on a rampage killing the rest of the family of the little girl who was killed in the original movie and others.

He fled the township

He then made a friend in an old blind fiddler who does not judge him on his appearance and teaches him language. Their domestic bliss is interrupted by some hunters who are lost and raise the alarm that the murderous monster responsible for deaths in the township.

Pretorius befriends the creature as he is collecting the parts for a female creature. He tells the creature that this female creation will be a friend for him.

The creature then helps Pretorious by kidnapping Elizabeth thereby forcing Frankenstein into their unholy collaboration.

They begin a long process of creation which includes Dwight Frye killing some random woman for her heart. The creature kills Dwight Frye… which is the second time that Frankenstein has killed a Dwight Frye character in as many movies. Elizabeth gets free.

The bride is brought to life.

She rejects the Male creature and in a moment of compassion, he lets Frankenstein and Elizabeth go. Before destroying the laboratory with The Bride, Pretorius and himself still inside.

Guess what. It’s time to talk about Sting.

Yep, the 1985 movie the bride….

For more listen to Season 2 Episode 6 of The Frankenpod, The Bride

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We need to talk about Igor…

This article was written as part of The FrankenPod‘s exploration of the cultural legacy of the Frankenstein myth.

When I was little I thought Igor came from the story of Frankenstein.

When I was a teenager I thought they created Igor for the film.

Now that I’m an adult I have no goddamn idea. The “Igor” of the 1931 Frankenstein… was not called Igor, his name was Fritz. So where did this rambling, pivotal, yet utterly disposable character come from? Is he really a 20th century Universal Studios creation or is there something more to this embodiment of the strange, the gatekeeper to monstrosity and unnerving manservant that we call “Igor”.

 

Its an iconic image, the obsessed mad scientist connecting the wires to his creature and the machinery that presumably has something to do with the whole process. He might cackle, he might yell to the heavens, he might even wear steampunk goggles. But in this equation of the isolated man and his dangerous obsession, there is often a third party, someone to flick the switch. Enter Igor.

Or Ygor.

Or Fritz.

His character generally fills at least one of these three roles:

  1. The other that acts as a buffer between the doctor and his creation, such as in the 1931 brain mix up, we can blame almost anything on Fritz in his role as the assistant.
  2. The humanity to the Doctor’s crazed monstrous mania. He is in on the project, and tries to stop the Doctor or appeal to his better nature, in vain.
  3. A human exposition facilitator. In the novel of Frankenstein which features no assistant, the primary story telling of the creation process occurs over a large passage of time and through Victor’s narration. So without an overarching voice narration, an assistant can ask the questions that will allow the Doctor to fill the audience in on what is happening.

 

Presumption; Or the Fate of Frankenstein (1823)

Richard Brinsley Peake’s stage adaptation would set up some the more outlandish and comedic elements of the modern Frankenstein myth. In this play Victor’s friend Henry Clerval from the novel and the new character invented for the play, Fritz, assist him in his experiments. This allows for a broad distribution of blame for the subsequent events rather than all the responsibility lying at the feet of Doctor Frankenstein. Fritz also functions as an audience surrogate or even narrator in many parts.

 

Frankenstein (1931)

Dwight_Frye
Dwight Frye in A Strange Attraction 1932

Fritz (Dwight Frye) is definitely a scapegoat and entirely expendable. The criminal brain mix up is a game changer, it takes the blame away from Frankenstein, and places the emphasis on nature rather than nurture. He is a low stakes victim and by virtue of his cruelty towards the Creature and unfortunately due to his appearance. The ablist judgements at play in portrayal of Fritz and his successors give the audience an excuse to dislike the assistant right from the outset, which I think we can all agree is an issue and deeply problematic.

 

Son of Frankenstein (1939)Son_of_Frankenstein_movie_poster.jpg

We are introduced to Bela Lugosi’s Ygor. Ygor also has a physical impairment which was the result of an attempt to hang him for grave robbing. The former blacksmith can control the “Monster” making him a formidable opponent for Frankenstein’s son. The cultural othering of Ygor or the assistant as being a different nationality and therefore strange.

 

mcdyofr-ec003_h.jpg
Marty Feldman as Igor

Young Frankenstein (1974)

This time played by Marty Feldman, and named Igor, this comedy portrayal of the assistant would shape our understanding of the character forever. His exaggerated and unnerving appearance combined with Feldman’s incomparable and unsettling performance has buried the “Igor” deep into our collective cultural understanding of the Frankenstein myth.

 

We will be watching Victor Frankenstein soon. I’m excited to see how Daniel Radcliffe deals with the somewhat intangible legacy of Igor.