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Topic section: Frankenstein’s scream factory
TOPIC SECTION:
Frankenstein’s scream factory
Picture: 03A_2000-5000_0141.jpg
The Creature from 'Frankenstein', 1931.
Credit: NMPFT, courtesy of the estates of Roy Ashton and Phil Leakey
Mary Shelley’s (1797-1851) story of Dr Frankenstein and the monster he creates in his laboratory has elicited screams (and also occasional laughs) in d

It asks us to confront moral issues such as body transformation, transfusion, human accountability, social alienation

ozens of movies. Mary Shelley’s arrogant scientist, Victor Frankenstein, claimed: ‘…benevolent intentions, and thirsted for the moment when I should put them in practice.’ Frankenstein endures as a cultural icon made flesh in the cinema not simply because of its infamous horrors but also for the richness of the ideas it explores. It asks us to confront moral issues such as body transformation, transfusion, human accountability, social alienation, playing God and the nature of life itself.
Picture: 02C_2000-5000_0147.jpg
Make-up test for the Creature, 1963.
Credit: NMPFT, courtesy of the estates of Roy Ashton and Phil Leakey


Mary Shelley’s story, first published in 1818, is really a retelling of a much older myth – that humans should not have access to certain types of knowledge (properly possessed only by God or the gods). If they do, tragedy will inevitably result. Shelley subtitled her novel The Modern Prometheus. According to Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods. As punishment, he was chained to a rock, where each day an eagle plucked at his liver. More recently, the disastrous consequences when we attempt to play God and create life were brought dramatically to the screen in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park (1993).

 
 
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Topic section: The science of screams
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Typically the scientist on screen has been an outsider, often an outcast. Whether played by Peter Sellers as Dr Strangelove or by Bela Lugosi, the role has often explored the line between genius and madness. Both share an affinity with obsession.  > more

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Topic Section: The cinema of paranoia
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From the post-war era to the present, science fiction films have reflected the concerns of their age. Films of the early 1950s, featuring aliens and mutants, expressed the paranoia of the time and the Cold War.  > more
 
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