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Julie Sloan Brannon

Mary Shelleys Frankenstein?


Kenneth Branagh and Keeping Promises
I will add but one word as to the alterations I have made. . . .
Throughout they are entirely confined to such parts as are mere
adjuncts to the story, leaving the core and substance of it untouched. Mary Shelley, Authors Introduction

Keeping promises is a theme omnipresent throughout Kenneth Branaghs 1994 film adaptation of Mary Shelleys most famous
novel. I promise: this phrase (or a variant) is uttered or implied no
less than twelve times throughout the film, and it most often refers to
Victor Frankensteins making or breaking promises. In many ways,
the concept of keeping a promise underlies the entire undertaking:
the very title of the film, Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, promises the
audience a faithful version of Shelleys novel. While the issue of fidelity is one that in adaptation studies has become theoretically fraught,
the film itself raises the question and, in so doing, breeds a host of others having to do with the sometimes uneasy relationship between film
and the literary. Branagh, in titling his film the way he does, brings
these issues to the forefront while simultaneously subsuming them in
a discourse that privileges literature over film. However, in cobbling
together his film from the various parts of Shelleys novel, earlier film
adaptations of Frankenstein, and late twentieth-century cultural sensibilities, Branagh perhaps echoes Victor in unintended ways. For adaptation studies, the insistence of commercial filmmakers to remain in
the fidelity camp makes any theoretical move beyond it difficult to
accomplish, and needs further consideration while attempting to carve
out a space for the field to shift its focus. The promise of the films
title, along with the breaking of that promise, offers us a case study to
examine the way fidelity remains the dominant paradigm, even when
filmmakers know that such fidelity is impossible to achieve.

The field of adaptation studies has for decades struggled with
the relationship between literature and film, and the fidelity argument
has been slowly discredited as a means of evaluation. In a cogent
discussion of this history, Mireia Aragay describes early adaptation
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theorists as holding a binary, hierarchical view of this relationship,
where the literary work was conceived of as the valued original,
while the film adaptation was merely a copy (12). This view relied on
an understanding of the text as unitary and self-contained in which
the meaning of the text was an immutable essence to be apprehended
by the (fundamentally passive) reader. Such assumptions depended
on an as yet unchallenged faith in the sovereign Author as source and
centre of the reified text (11). Tracing the shifts in adaptation theory
starting from George Bluestones seminal Novels into Film (1957),
Aragay shows how the fidelity focus influenced even those theorists
who were attempting to break free of that binary novel/film hierarchy,
but who could not shake the basic assumptions of a traditional focus on the text even after the death of the Author.1 In 1984, Aragay
writes, Christopher Orr noted that the focus on fidelity impoverishes
the films intertextuality by reducing it to a single pre-text (i.e. the
literary source) while ignoring other pre-texts and codes (cinematic,
cultural) that contribute to making the filmic text intelligible (qtd.
in Aragay 19). Fast-forward almost twenty years after Orr, and Thomas Leitch finds that adaptation studies is still operating under many of
the assumptions that privilege the literary text as locus of authority.
In an article appearing in Criticism (2003), Leitch outlines what he
calls the 12 fallacies of contemporary adaptation theory, and almost
all of them deal in some way with the primacy of the written text over
the visual. More recently, Leitch has urged critics to move beyond the
assumption that fidelity is ethically superior to infidelity in adaptation, by suggesting that adaptation studies sever its ties to ethically
charged language (The Ethics of Infidelity 66-67). He notes that
without such moral arguments, fidelity is only important in order to
presell a particular adaptation by association with a commercially successful property or to claim a culturally ennobling mission for [the]
film industry (64). Branaghs film essentially attempts both: it trades
on film iconography created by James Whale in the 1930s in his adaptations of the Frankenstein myth, and it invokes the Literary through
the promise of its title. Thus Branaghs film reveals that, even when
filmmakers understand that fidelity in adaptation is impossible, marketing the film as truer to the source text is commercially desirable
in order to claim that ennobling mission.

Branaghs invocation of Shelleys ghost echoes similar moves
made at the very beginnings of mass marketed film itself. In a study
of the authorial on film, Karen Diehl discusses this history: The [realization] soon dawned that the middle-class could be won as an audience of the new medium by linking film to literature . . . , and more
specifically to the classics of a given national literature . . . . From
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early on, the appeal of the book found its entry into the marketing
materials, through placing a picture of the book on advertising posters. She continues that the book [was] a visual prompter that metonymically indicated the presence of the author, using voiceovers or
page text introducing the film as if being written by the authoreven
though sometimes the text shown on screen was created by the filmmakers and did not come from the source novel.2 Diehl maintains that
The literary text is a trace marked on the film by textual and visual
prompters (89-90); she argues that the purpose of telling a literary
tale in film adaptation thus becomes the enterprise of narrating an idea
of the author itself. [These traces] construct the figure of the author
as a point of narrative origin (91). Diehl writes that for films based
on well-known classics, to be faithful to the text is implicitly understood as fidelity to its famous author (103). Thus Shelleys presence
in Branaghs film becomes a kind of ghostly imprimatur for his adaptation by implying that Shelley herself approved the project as true
to her story: the author approves this message, so to speak, though it
revises her text. For example, Branaghs decision to make Elizabeth a
stronger, more contemporary woman was predicated upon an idea that
Shelley herself, the daughter of a very important feminist, should be
represented by a figure who was not just a love interest (Branagh,
Frankenstein Reimagined 25). Invoking the author both explicitly
(through title and voiceover) and implicitly (Shelleys history as a politically and sexually radical person) allows Branagh to trade upon the
credibility of the literary even while leaving it behind.

But Branaghs film does more than trade on literary antecedents; it also trades on the cinematic iconography of earlier Frankenstein films that were themselves revisions of Shelleys text. Pedro Javier Pardo Garcia argues that Branaghs film creates a postmodern
Frankenstein by making outright additions . . . which have nothing
to do with the book but ultimately point to other film versions of the
myth, although reinterpreted and transformed (223). Garcia examines the way Branaghs non-book elements actually blend together
elements of earlier films, like James Whales 1931 Frankenstein and
1935 Bride of Frankenstein, particularly in the scene that reanimates
the corpse of Victors beloved Elizabeth. He notes that Branaghs adaptation is the result of a dialogue not only with its literary source, but
also with previous film adaptations and therefore with the cinematic
myth, and that it undermines the alleged restoration of the book carried out by the film, and reinforces the basic contradiction running
through it between the literary and the popular [via the] added tension
between literary source and cinematic tradition (236). Ultimately,
Garcia concludes that film adaptation itself is by nature a composite,
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which includes not only other films as intertexts, but also other kinds
of discourse and representation and that it is a practice of cultural intertextuality, with Branaghs film as an emblematic case of the composite nature of artistic creation in postmodern times (240).

Garcias analysis does not examine the way Branaghs additions may in fact reinsert themes from Shelleys text in ways meaningful to contemporary audiences, and so perhaps his promise of a more
faithful version of the novel may not be entirely broken. In Whales
Frankenstein, the iconic Its alive! Alive! laboratory scene and the
addition of a creepy lab assistant have created a well-known visual
trope for mad scientists and out-of-control experiments; in The Bride
of Frankenstein, the creation of a companion for the monster goes
horribly wrong when the bride finds the monster as repulsive as everyone else does, leading to the monsters destruction of himself, the
Bride, and Frankensteins lab. Additionally, the visual iconography
of Elsa Lanchester as the Bride, with her white-striped hair electrically reaching to the sky and her piercing scream of repulsion, influences Branaghs visuals for the reanimated Elizabeth. In both cases,
these film antecedents shape the way Branagh presents his own story,
particularly as they link to tropes that exist independently of Shelleys Frankenstein in contemporary culture. Garcia finds fault with
Branaghs inability to honor the promise of the films title, although
he sees this as an opportunity to expose the composite nature of
adaptation; I will suggest below that Branaghs additions here may be
more complicated than Garcia suggests because of the way audiences
receive texts.

It is clear that for most classic novels brought to film, there is
little use in evaluating the adaptation as faithful because the source
texts do not exist for readers in the same way they did for the authors
contemporaries. Leitch demonstrates the fallacy of such thinking when
he says that every text is an intertext that depends for its interpretation on shared assumptions about language, culture, narrative, and
other presentational conventions (Twelve Fallacies). Such shared
assumptions change over time for both novels and films. In Shelleys
case, Regency-era readers would have filtered their interpretations of
Frankenstein through the lens of the French Revolution, Napoleonic
conquest, and expanding medical knowledge, as well as the divide
between Jacobin and Anti-Jacobin philosophies. Frankenstein can be
read, in light of these factors, as a critique of Percy Shelleys idealized
Prometheus (hence the subtitle), where hidden behind Godwins and
Percy Shelleys dream of human perfectibility and immortality is a
rampant egoism, the cardinal sin of the Satanic Prometheus, and the
extreme selfishness that results from the poets dedication to marry
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the finite and the infinite through the agency of the poetic imagination (Runyon). But the history of the twentieth century is overlaid
with a scientific rather than poetic drive to human perfection, and so
instead modern readers often bring a cultural memory of the scientifically-based horrors of World War II (Hitlers eugenic project and the
atom bomb), and awareness of more recent breakthroughs in genetics,
physics, and cloning to their reading of Shelleys novel. These factors
create a different kind of critique, one that focuses on the hubris of
scientific overreaching and a warning against mad scientists. Each
century emphasizes something different in its cultural understanding
of the text, and thus we are not really reading Mary Shelleys text, but
ours.

Film audiences shared cultural assumptions vary as well.
For early viewers of the Whale films, their response would have been
mediated by the newness of cinema with sound, rapid shifts in scientific knowledge, and the literary cachet of Shelleys novel. Further,
Whales films relied on past popular stage productions of Shelleys
Frankenstein for much of their iconography: the first dramatic presentation of the novel in 1823 introduced the lab assistant; dropped the
Walton frame narrative; and offered a silent monster rather than the
eloquent speaker of Shelleys text, a pattern continued in later theater
productions of Frankenstein (Baldick 59-60). Whales films followed
the same path, and Boris Karloffs Creature continued the presentation of the monster as inarticulate brute. The notion of the mad scientist becomes entwined so strongly with Whales film in part because of the visual emphasis on the creation scene in the lab, in which
Frankenstein raises the inert body of the monster to a lightning-rent
sky for an infusion of electricity, and then ecstatically cries out, Its
alive! Alive! Whales film and Karloffs performance have not only
shaped nearly every on-screen adaptation of Frankenstein since, but
have entered the cultural lexicon even for those who have never seen
the Whale films. For audiences in the late twentieth century, Whales
version of the creation scene (through references via cartoons, other
films, and television) may define the story of Frankenstein more than
Shelleys novel does, and Branagh attempts to reinsert the literary text
by positioning his treatment as a more faithful adaptation than these
earlier films. However, Branaghs adaptation of Frankenstein, through
visual and plot references to the Whale films and reimagining characters via twentieth-century pop psychology, makes a promise of literary
faithfulness but gives us something much more than that. As such, it
exists as a strange nexus of all the central issues of adaptation theory.

On one hand, an adaptation ought to be something different
from the source text, or it is just a copy; on the other hand, audiences
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and filmmakers often place a great deal of value on the literary text
as progenitor. Whats a director to do? Leitch ably describes this conundrum: Either adaptations have a responsibility to stick as close as
possible to their sources . . . or they have an equally strong responsibility to strike out on their own (Ethics 66). Branaghs film tries
to straddle the line between the two poles. For those undisturbed by
alterations to source text, the film simultaneously goes too far and not
far enough, while for purists, the promise of the title remains unfulfilled. Branagh follows Shelleys plot fairly closely, with one notable
exception discussed below, and the remaining alterations are to characters. These in particular show Branaghs interpretive updating of
Shelleys novel. He does manage, though, to express Shelleys themes
regardless of the character changes, and so perhaps his film is true
to the novel in spite of the radical shifts. The film seems to exist in a
limbo between the two poles outlined by Leitch; it is at once truer to
the novel and radically different, and thus becomes difficult to evaluate if we remain in the fidelity paradigm.

In 1994, Branaghs film purported to give us an interpretation thats more faithful than earlier versions to the spirit of her book
(Branagh, A Tale 9). Branagh states that he wanted to use as much
of Mary Shelley as had not been seen on film before [and] to take
things out that earlier films had invented, referring to the Whale
films (9). Branagh rightly understands that his version is simply an
interpretation of the source text (Frankenstein Reimagined 17), but
throughout Branaghs discussion he constantly refers to Shelley and
the authority of her novel as source: this version will be more faithful, take out elements added by prior films, use the names correctly,
reinforce the moral dimension of the text, and so forth. Further, the
film opens with a voiceover of a woman reading a portion of Shelleys
own 1831 introduction, creating the impression that it is Mary Shelley
herself speaking and setting up the film to follow (this move illustrates what Diehl calls the trace of the authorial on film discussed
above). Curiously, Branagh never really discusses the elements of the
Whale films that he did keep, an omission which reads as an attempt to
maintain a distance from these films. The iconography of these earlier
adaptations, though, seems almost necessary to meet audience expectations of what Frankenstein is about. Thus, the promise of Shelleys novel being faithfully rendered cannot be met; yet, the value of
the film seems predicated upon that promise. The following section of
this essay will closely examine the alterations made by Branagh and
the shift in the story that results, in an attempt to untangle the threads
of this broken promise.

Branaghs Victor differs greatly from that in the original text
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because, primarily, Branagh has made him a much more sympathetic
character than Shelley offers us. This move presumably results from
a need for the hero of the film to be seen as a romantic lead whose
perspective dominates the story. Shelleys Victor only narrates part of
the novel, and so the literary version allows the audience to get multiple perspectives on the central question: who is the true monster?
In the novel, Victor is portrayed as the product of a loving family,
spoiled and indulged, and his obsession with creating life from death
stems mainly from hubrishe wants to create a new species, which
would see him as its benefactor (Shelley 52). His scientific curiosity
is largely unmitigated by ethical, moral, or emotional considerations.
Consistently throughout the book, Victor has multiple opportunities
to reveal his secret and possibly stop the Creatures rampage, but he
rationalizes himself out of doing so. His self-absorption is particularly
contemptible when Justine Moritz awaits her execution for a crime the
Creature committed, and Victor can only anguish over his own feelings of guilt and shame:

Despair! Who dared talk of that? The poor victim, who on the morrow was to pass the awful boundary between life and death, felt not, as
I did, such deep and bitter agony. . . . She indeed gained the resignation
she desired. But I, the true murderer, felt the never-dying worm alive in
my bosom, which allowed of no hope or consolation. (85)

Contrast Victors tormented focus on himself here with Elizabeths


actions at Justines trial, when she risks public censure as a woman
speaking out of turn in the courtroom to defend her friend (Shelley
81). Her admirable loyalty stands in sharp relief to Victors response.
Further eroding our sympathy for Victor, Shelley has him destroy the
companion he had agreed to make for the Creature. He begins having second thoughtswould this bride for the Creature become ten
thousand times more malignant than her mate? Would she also hate
the Creature and turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty
of man? Might they have children, and a race of devils propagated
upon the earth? Victor asks himself, Had I a right, for my own benefit, to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations?questions
at direct odds with his earlier fantasy of a new species that would
bless [him] as its creator and source; and many happy and excellent
natures would owe their being to me (Shelley 160, 52). This reversal
appears to occur because Victor is now, for the first time, thinking of
consequences. It is a pivotal moment: his decision to break his promise to the Creature triggers all the disasters to follow. Shelley does not
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allow us an easy evaluation of Victors motives here; on the one hand,
his fears are all too justified. On the other, it seems that completing
his task would also redress the wrong he has done to his creation. Is
he being selfish? Clear-headed for the first time? Shelley never really
alleviates those doubts, particularly when the creature promises to revenge himself on Victors wedding night. Victor never once considers
the threat to Elizabeth, only to himself. Is Victor really learning to see
the world outside of his own self-interest? Shelley leaves this question
unanswered.

Branagh, though, gives a very different motivation for Victors studies and a dramatically different reading of the character: Victor has been traumatized by his mothers death in giving birth to his
younger brother William, and wants to defeat death so that people
who love each other can be together forever (Branagh, Frankenstein Reimagined 19). This more emotionally sympathetic reading
is compounded throughout the film with his anguished attempts to
save Professor Waldman, as well as the added scene when he brings
Elizabeth back to life. In fact, it is Waldman who has forged the path
of reanimating the dead, not Victor; Waldman abandons his research
as abomination but Victor argues to continue it. When Waldman
dies, Victor takes the unfinished work and adds his own knowledge
to it. In short, Victor is slightly less culpable for his crimes in the
film because he is only completing someone elses work. Waldmans
murder spurs him to continue his research. Each time Branaghs Victor crosses an ethical boundary, it is motivated not by hubris but by
emotional pain, creating sympathy for a character who simultaneously
horrifies us by the lengths to which he will go in achieving his end.
Thus, Shelleys central questionwho is more monstrous, Victor or
his creation?is downplayed in favor of making Victor a romantic
tragic hero: he is not flawed by a defect of characterhe is driven by
grief. Branagh states that his first crucial departure . . . was to render
. . . Victor Frankenstein less of an hystericwe believe [he] is not a
mad scientist but a dangerously sane one. He is also a very romantic figure (Frankenstein Reimagined 17). He further notes that the
central obstacle to sympathizing with Victor for many readers occurs
when Victor becomes repulsed by his creation once it awakens, and
in a quest to remake Victor as a character who can inspire pity rather
than repugnance this moment became a central problem the film tries
to alter. The change makes perfect sense within the films philosophy
of the character, although it is at odds with Shelleys text.

In the novel, Victor repeatedly states that he wants to build
a better human (showing most crucially his hubris in trying to outdo
God), and so he makes it larger and, as he imagines, out of more beau8

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tiful parts in order to do so. When the full weight of his deed falls upon
him in viewing his new creation, Victor says, Beautiful! Great God!
. . . the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless disgust and horror filled my heart (Shelley 56). Branagh states that this moment in
the novel is a problem: Why, after all this time, having seen what he
was putting together, should he be so repelled and then be so frightened by it? We felt that if we did it exactly as the book does, it would
be psychologically inconsistent with the Victor we were presenting
(Frankenstein Reimagined, 19; emphasis added).3 Branaghs Victor
is driven by different emotions than the novels Victor, and so pride
does not blind him to the reality of his creation and its implications.
The novels Victor cannot see the truth of what he is doing because he
operates under a fantasy of godhood; the films Victor knows exactly
what hes about and is driven to do it anyway. He convinces himself
that the ends justify the means, and so enters charnel houses, collects
amniotic fluid, and performs other distasteful activities in order to
gather the raw materials for his project. In short, Branagh creates a
different kind of moral ambiguity than Shelley does. Some might say
Branagh misses the point, but Shelleys novel aims at a different target
than the film by raising more universal ethical questions (does Man
have the right to play God? What is societys obligation to the lower
classes? How does human evil come to exist?); Branaghs film localizes these questions to focus on a Victor who travels a road paved with
good intentions. In fact, Branagh describes Victor as an obsessive
overreacher who fails out of what he believes to be the noblest of motives (Frankenstein Reimagined 19). Many of the same questions
arise (playing God, how does human evil exist), but by focusing on
a more sympathetic Victor driven by grief rather than pride, the film
shifts the themes to something much narrower than Shelleys text (and
perhaps, at the same time, more universaleveryone can understand
grieving over the loss of a loved one).

Another character revision nods to Shelleys text in a way that
earlier films often ignore, and elicits a central theme in the novel. As
noted, the frame story of Walton is often excised in film and stage
adaptations of Frankenstein, and by reinserting it Branagh actually
does make his film resemble Shelleys text. The novels Walton, too, is
ready to achieve fame at all costs as he searches for the North passage
that will allow people to circumnavigate the globe. His pride will not
allow him to turn back even when it is clear that Nature has the upper
hand and his crew and ship are in danger. Meeting Frankenstein (who
asks Do you share my madness?), he hears a story which parallels
his own in many ways, and by the end of the novel he learns its lesson
and turns back for England. The themes of isolation and friendship of
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true minds, however, seem to take precedence in Waltons story over
the drive towards achievement. Waltons letters repeatedly lament
his loneliness, his feeling that he cannot find a true friend, and the
need for companionship. Finding Frankenstein allows Walton to meet
someone of like mind and class stature with whom he feels an instant
connection. When the Creature appears after Frankenstein dies, Walton is given proof of Victors tale, but his loyalty to Victor engenders
mixed reactions to the Creature: I was at first touched by the expressions of his misery; yet, when I called to mind what Frankenstein had
said of his powers of eloquence and persuasion, and when I again cast
my eyes on the lifeless form of my friend, indignation was rekindled
within me (Shelley 212). His mixed feelings, perhaps, allow him to
learn the lesson of Frankensteins story, and he turns back for England.
Isolation as a precursor to evil is a tremendously important theme in
Shelleys text, and is echoed throughout the novel via Walton, Frankenstein, and the Creature: Victor isolates himself from his family,
and has no buffer to prevent him from his experiment; the Creature
is isolated by everyone because of his fearful appearance, and this
constant rejection finally turns him to despair and destruction; but for
Walton, his friendship with Frankenstein alleviates his isolation, and
so he does not follow the same horrible path as the other two. Thus
Shelley reiterates that only through connection to others can human
beings be turned from vice, as Walton exemplifies.

Branaghs Walton, however, exists very differently on screen.
He does not lament his loneliness, but rather seems driven and unfeeling towards his crew, who threaten mutiny if they do not turn
back. After hearing Victors story, Walton tells the crew that he died
raving, that his story couldnt be true. There is little to show the
friendship that developed in the novel between Walton and Victor; instead, Branaghs film focuses on the parallel ambition of the two men.
Oddly, here it is Walton who embodies the hubris that Shelley assigns
to Victor, and he has none of the emotional qualities that we see in
the novel. And yet, the films Walton conveys a striking compassion
unmitigated by any loyalty to Victor. In the film, Walton encounters
the Creature sobbing over Victors body, as in the novel. He hears
the Creature out, and amazement crosses his face as he realizes that
Victor was telling the truth. But rather than berating the Creature out
of loyalty to his dead friend, Walton allows him to bear witness
to Victors funeral, and asks the Creature to come back to civilization with them. He feels pity and compassion for the Creature, and
the verse from Ecclesiastes he reads at the funeral reiterates many
themes related to the films Victor: And yea, I gave my heart to know
wisdom, and to know madness and folly: and I perceived that all is
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vanity and vexation of spirit. . . . For in much wisdom is much grief,
and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. For God shall
bring every work and every secret thing into judgment whether it be
good, or whether it be evil (Darabont and Lady 137-138). Branagh
manages to reinsert some of the themes of isolation and loneliness via
this exchange with the Creature, and the lesson learned via the funeral
scene. The reversal of Waltons character allows Branagh to maintain
Victors sympathetic and noble persona in the film and transfer the
harsher elements onto Walton. Thus, the main element of the Walton/
Victor relationship becomes the ambition theme; Shelleys themes of
isolation and companionship are mutated into something else via this
character shift because, rather than being refracted through all three
men as they are in the novel, these themes are focused primarily on the
Creature in the film.

Branaghs Creature is perhaps the closest to Shelleys version,
at least in comparison to prior incarnations. He is eloquent, smart,
and volatile, and follows the same trajectory of rejection, hope, and
despair. In Shelleys novel, the narration by the Creature of his time
spent secretly living in the wilderness with the De Laceys4 provides
the fulcrum for the readers pity at the Creatures lot. The Creatures
early life is childlike and confused, and he does not understand the
fear and repulsion he inspires in others. His reactions are entirely empirical and he is the embodiment of Rousseaus Natural Man, who
is born without sin but is corrupted by discourse with an unfeeling
society. Through hidden observation of the De Lacey family, he sees
that not all human interactions are cruel or painful. After he learns to
read (through a wildly implausible interlude in which a Turkish noblewoman arrives to live with Felix De Lacey and must learn to communicate), he further educates himself through Volneys radical Ruins
of Empires, Plutarchs Lives, Goethes Sorrows of Young Werther, and
Miltons Paradise Lost. His education, then, relies on Romantic ideals
of fighting tyranny and the primacy of emotion over reason. He finds
Victors journal in a pocket of the clothing he took from Victors lab,
learns of his origins, and, after being rejected by his beloved cottagers,
begins his murderous quest for vengeance on his creator. The entire
section is designed to show how the Creature has the potential for
good, but through enforced isolation from society turns to evil deeds
out of despair and bitterness. For readers of Shelleys text, this sequence provides a rationale for the Creatures actions that complicate
our response to his murders of William and, indirectly, Justine. It also
causes us to re-evaluate Victor Frankensteins post-creation description of the Creatures horrific appearance at his bedside, reaching out
to harm him: now we understand that it was not a demonic attempt to
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kill Frankenstein but the reaching out of an infant to its parent, looking
for a connection. In short, as Shelley allows Victors narrative to alter
our understanding of Waltons quest and its consequences, so does she
allow the Creatures narrative to revise our feelings about Victors.

Branaghs film short-circuits this narrative recursiveness by
showing us immediately what the Creature experiences upon leaving
Victors lab. He is accosted by a mob and beaten, and he flees in terror. The film cuts back to Victor being nursed back to health after his
collapse from the exhaustion brought on by his experiment, and Victor
is told that a cholera outbreak is killing the elderly and the newborn.
He assumes that the Creature will die from the disease and he can put
his misguided attempt behind him. Then, we cut back to the Creature,
foraging for food in the woods until he stumbles across the De Lacey
cottage, where the family is changed from an old man and his two
adult children to an old man and his sons nuclear family. The Creature learns language and reading not from a Turkish aristocrat, but
(more plausibly) from the lessons given to the two young children in
the cottage. Branagh reinforces the poignancy of the Creatures isolation when the first words he learns are friend, father, familynone
of which he will ever have. His ultimate rejection by the De Laceys
becomes a pivotal emotional moment, as in the novel: we see him flee
the cottage and cut to him sobbing uncontrollably in the woods. He
returns to the cottage in a final, desperate attempt to connect with the
De Laceys, but they are gone. His rage is unleashed, and then we cut
back to Victors reunion with his family and his prospects for marriage
to Elizabeth, a contrast made starker by the emotional scene of the
Creatures final rejection. This mode of cross-cutting between Victor
and the Creature eliminates a sense of re-evaluation for the audience.
The Creature does not narrate his story to Victor; we experience it as
it happens and as a result we take this experience as truth. Shelleys
Victor says that the Creature is eloquent and false, and so raises in the
reader a niggling doubt as to the veracity of his story. Branagh erases
these doubts entirely, and the film focuses the isolation theme on the
Creature as the crux of the broken compact between the Creature and
his creator.

In each case, Shelleys themes are not changed, just their presentation. As in the Walton/Victor switch, the Creatures manipulative
nature surfaces through the alterations made in the films narrative
structure. When Victor and the Creature finally meet in the film on
the Sea of Ice in a frozen Alpine cave, the Creature confronts Victor
with the consequences of his actions instead of narrating his story. He
describes how he delighted in killing William Frankenstein and feels
no remorse for framing Justine. He has become pitiless and almost
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negates the pathos engendered by the De Laceys earlier rejection. In
contrast, Victor feels remorse that he has been the cause of so much
death and anguish. His guilt persuades him to give in to the Creatures
demand for a companion as well as his horror at the Creatures threat
of further destruction. Again, Victor is made a more sympathetic character, because not only is he motivated by his emotional response but
he is also let off the hook for any consequences of building another
monster by the Creatures threats. His later breaking of that promise
seems less culpable as a result of the Creatures fully embracing his
own rage.

While the revisions to the male characters end up accomplishing much the same thematic ends as Shelleys text, Branaghs film
deviates most strikingly in the female characters. Both Elizabeth and
Justine undergo radical alterations, and there are numerous rationales
at play here, including their relationships with the films titular hero.
The films Justine is in love with Victor, which underscores his position as romantic lead; there seems to be no other function for this revision. Justine in the novel is a martyr figure, not a love interest, and her
situation serves to emphasize Victors selfishness because her death
places him as a helpless bystander. As the mob in the film drags Justine screaming to the top of a wall to be hanged, Victor and Elizabeth
are shown frantically fighting through the crowd, futilely yelling for
them to stop. Justine is fitted with a noose and then pushed from the
wall as we see Victor and Elizabeth from a high angle shot, emphasizing their powerlessness. There is no anguished, internal conflict for
Victor as in the novel, and the film reinforces its stance that Victor is
not completely at fault for his problems. Branaghs silence on this particular revisionwhich is wholly justified by his vision of Victor
shows that he may be uneasy with its implication of straying from the
text he promises to restore.

Branagh presents Elizabeth, who is at the center of his most
radical departure from Shelleys text, as a perfect love interest for Victor, matched in every way. Shelley does not. In fact, Elizabeths introduction in novel and film differ in an illustrative way: in the novel,
she is called a pretty present for my Victor by his mother, and the
description tellingly reveals Victors mindset:
. . . she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift, [and] I, with
childish seriousness, interpreted her words literally and looked upon
Elizabeth as minemine to protect, love, and cherish. All praises bestowed on her I received as made to a possession of my own. . . . No
word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation in which she
stood to memy more than sister, since till death she was to be mine

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only. (Shelley 35; emphasis added)

Victor sees Elizabeth as merely a possession in which he can take


pride. In the film, however, Elizabeth is not presented as a gift, but as a
companion. Victors mother says, You must think of her as your own
sister. You must look after her. And be kind to her. Always (Darabont
and Lady 39). The film then shows the young Victor and Elizabeth
shaking hands, as equals, with the camera zooming in on their clasped
hands as the scene fades.

Unlike his silence on the revision of Justines character,
Branagh has much to say on Elizabeths alteration. The decision to
make these changes, Branagh writes, was predicated on an understanding of modern sensibilities: We felt it was crucial in a modern
movieespecially of a novel by a great woman writer and the daughter of a very important feministto make sure that she is represented
by someone who isnt just a love interest. Its not an attempt to be
politically correct. Its just very much more interesting, and more accurate about the current evolutionary state of the relations between
men and women (Frankenstein Reimagined 26). He notes that
Shelley presents a strong love between the two, in the conventional
sense in which such relationships could be presented. . . . But its an
unequal relationship. We couldnt be strictly authentic to the period,
because I wanted to say at every stage: These two people are equal
(Frankenstein Reimagined 25). Branagh imagines what Elizabeth
would have been like had Shelley, the feminists daughter, written her
novel in the 20th century. Given the flashes of intelligence and independence shown in Elizabeths character in the novel, he may not be
far wrong. Her political analyses, her education, and her willingness
to stand up for Justine regardless of public exposure give us a woman
not entirely restricted to the ideals of domesticity of the time (Shelley
63; 81). As a result, an alteration made to appease modern sensibilities
ends up, perhaps, reinforcing Shelleys subtext. However, the more
radical changes involving Elizabeth rest more in the plot addition of
Victors reviving Elizabeths lifeless body as a counterpoint to the initial creation scene, and this addition speaks to Branaghs reliance on
the Whale films as antecedents rather than Shelleys text..

In the history of Frankenstein adaptations, the creation scene
is one that directors have elaborated since it was first produced on
stage and screen. Even in the first Frankenstein film in 1910, the creation scene takes up almost a full three minutes of a twelve-minute
film, and of course the 1931 Whale film follows suit. Shelley gives
us the following paragraph to describe the climactic moment of the
Creatures awakening:
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It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted
to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I
might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my
feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally
against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by
the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow
eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs. (56)
But of course, this short paragraph is tantalizingly inadequate for a visual representation. It is the moment of mystery, of no turning back
and therefore full of dramatic potential. It is clear that for Shelley, the
(forgive me) nuts and bolts of how the Creature actually comes to life
are not the focus of the story at this stageshe spends several pages
showing us Victors megalomaniacal fantasizing about his new species, but writes only a few sentences about the actual moment itself.
For Shelley, science is just the engine that gets us to the central moral
questions. But in the 20th century (and now the 21st), era of technological marvels, it is the point, both for the story and for the ethical questions that result from the novel. And so we must have a heightened
awareness that such scientific mastery is not only possible, but probable. Branagh writes of this pivotal moment, In the earlier Frankenstein films . . . you had that great gothic laboratory and the body being
hauled up into the storm. . . It creates the sense of an epic struggle
(Frankenstein Reimagined 21). He patched this sense of an epic
struggle onto the notion of the creation scene as a monstrous labor,
replete with conception and birth imagery.5 The setting of the lab is
filled with movement through ropes, pulleys, wheels, and tracks. Using a large number of electric eels for the necessary jolt of power, Victor moves rapidly around his lab, shirtless and sweaty, madly whirling
things about and throwing switches while the music rises. Finally at
the climax of the scene, he pulls a rope attached to a large sac and releases the wriggling eels through a tube into the womblike tank where
the Creature floats. A clearer image of fertilization could scarcely be
imagined. As a scene, it is both melodramatically silly and brilliantly
Wagnerian, visualizing the creation as a dramatic set piece that has
nothing to do with Shelleys text. It does, however, create the same
heightened emotion in the audience that the 1931 audience of Whales
film must have experienced, and Branagh even shouts, Live! Live!
at one point, in a direct homage to the earlier film.

The ensuing sequence emphasizes Victors coldly scientific
perspective and underscores his lack of feeling for his creation. Here
we come closest to the Victor of Shelleys novel. Victor makes several
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Julie Sloan Brannon


attempts to help the limp Creature out of the tank, but he is slippery
with birth fluids and the tank tumbles over, spilling them both onto
the floor. The colors are gray with blue overtones; there is a coldness
to the scene, and the only sounds are Victors grunts of exertion as
he tries to get the Creature on its feet. Eventually Victor slips on the
gooey floor, and the Creature entangles himself in some chains which
rapidly raise him to the ceiling, knocking his head against pulleys on
the way up; he hangs there, limp and unmoving, and Victor looks up
and whispers, What have I done?; at this point he seems to wake
from his obsession to realize the ethical mistake he has made. Victor
walks away from his creation, writing in his journal that resulting
animant is malformed, pitiful and dead. Victor shows absolutely no concern for the Creature, only a kind of exhausted dejection
at his own failure. Thus Branagh handles the moment of realization as
a more understandable disappointment and remorse, rather than the
breathless disgust and horror of Shelleys Victor.

But the additions here are not offered as an indictment of the
films worth as adaptation, even though it does not follow the source
text. The cultural existence of Frankenstein for twentieth-century
viewers in part relies on this exciting glimpse of scientific triumph,
and so Branaghs film delivers what we have come to expect in Frankenstein films without being criticized for it. Clearly, because Branagh
has given us something close to our twentieth-century source text of
Shelley, by using visual iconography derived from the Whale films,
this addition excites no comment. Instead, it is the addition of Elizabeths reanimation that often gets seized upon as proof of Branaghs
broken promise to be faithful to the text. The first creation scene
exhibits a tremendous contrast with Elizabeths reanimation. The entire sequence bears analysis, as it conflates the films presentation of
Victor, the motif of broken promises, and the way Branagh straddles
the line between faithful copy and innovative adaptation.

It is telling that the sequences leading up to Elizabeths reanimation are those that focus most on the idea of broken promises, and
do not appear in Shelleys text. When Victor agrees to make the Creature a companion, he begins his work in Geneva (rather than travelling
away as he does in the novel). He and Elizabeth argue, with Victor
asking for another month before they get married: A month, thats all
I ask. And then we can be married and forget this whole business. I
promise (Darabont and Lady 117). It is here that Elizabeth expresses
the crux of the issue and exhibits the independence of spirit the film
brings to her character: Promise! Promise! Dont dare use that word
to me! You promised to tell me who this man was. You promised to
abandon this work for good. Your promises dont mean anything
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(Darabont and Lady 117). Repeatedly, we are given ample proof that
Victor, though filled with good intentions, cannot fulfill his oaths.
Elizabeth leaves Victor, and he is bereft as he turns to his work. The
Creature, showing his newfound delight in cruelty, brings him Justines body to resurrect as a companion, and when Victor is repulsed
at using the corpse of someone he cared for, the Creature taunts him
with the phrase Materials, remember? Nothing more. Your words
(Darabont and Lady 119). It is this moment that causes Victor to refuse, rather than any attack of conscience over consequencesagain
underlining the very personal nature of Victors motivations in opposition to those in the novel. Once the Creature makes his threat,
saying You will honor your promise to me, Victor literally runs to
find Elizabeth and try to stop her from leaving him. In an emotional
scene, they reconcile, with Elizabeth declaring, Marry me today and
tomorrow tell me everything (Darabont and Lady 121). Her death on
their wedding night in the novel is bloodless, with her strangled body
draped across the bed; in the film, the Creature plunges his hand into
her chest, pulls out her heart, and thrusts it at the camera saying I
keep my promises! This constant reiteration of promises throughout
these additions stresses Victors inability (or unwillingness) to honor
them. Further, Elizabeths death is a symbolic rape by the Creature,
and limns the conflict between the two men as a love triangle, not a
neglectful parent-abandoned child conflict as in the novel, and thus
draws in elements of the 1935 Bride of Frankenstein. In Whales film,
the bride is repulsed by the Creature (as Victor fears she may be in
the novel), and she rejects him, turning towards Frankenstein. The reanimation of Elizabeth follows that earlier film in having the Creature
come for Elizabeth as his promised companion, and the resurrected
bride being confused between the two.

Elizabeths reanimation operates in stark contrast to the Creatures: the lighting is warm and candlelit as opposed to bluish and
cold; Victor takes the time to help her breathe and dresses her, in contrast to his struggle with the naked Creature; he talks to her, attempting to get her to become his beloved Elizabeth by asking her to say
his name, whereas his interactions with the Creature are silent and
utilitarian. Finally, when she begins to respond, Victor dances with
her, hearing music in his head that is a discordant echo of the music
playing at the last ball where he danced with her in life. This dance
is macabre and disturbing, and indicates that Victor has perhaps gone
a little mad. The contrast between the two creations underscores Victors emotional investment in the second and the purely intellectual investment he had in the first, and our horror is mitigated by the depth of
his grief. However, it also emphasizes his earlier abandonment of the
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Julie Sloan Brannon


Creature and his willingness to turn his back on his creation yet again.
In this way, Branaghs film reinserts one of Shelleys major themes,
and we begin asking ourselves if Victor is the true monster after all.
At this point, the triangle of Whales film narrative comes to the fore
in Branaghs, as the Creature appears and calls to Elizabeth. She sees
him and becomes confused, tottering over to him (like Elsa Lanchester
in Whales film) and touching the scars on his face. Doing so causes
Elizabeth to see for the first time the ugly stitches on her arms. She
begins to feel her face, and suddenly she is aware of what has been
done. In Whales film, the bride screams at the Creatures appearance,
and he becomes enraged by this rejection and deliberately destroys
the laboratory in an explosion. In Branaghs film, Elizabeth defiantly
immolates herself with a kerosene lamp, and runs through the mansion
setting everything on fire and (implausibly) causing massive explosions throughout as she burns. While this particular sequence stretches
the bounds of credibility, Elizabeths choice is entirely in keeping with
the strong-willed and independent woman Branaghs film creates.

This second creation scene draws the most attention as a
place where Branagh breaks his promise to give us Shelleys text. Yet
in many ways this scene not only reinserts one of Shelleys central
themes, it also brings to a close the films focus on a man driven by the
desire to defeat death simply because he cannot bear to lose those he
loves. Thus, this scene shows both tangled sides of the adaptation dilemma: Branagh endeavors to provide a faithful rendering of Shelleys
novel, but he is also giving us something new that speaks to the shared
cultural assumptions of a twentieth-century audience. In attempting to
find a balance between these two competing aims, however, the films
surface insistence on being Mary Shelleys Frankenstein appears
to worship the author as point of narrative origin (Diehl 91), and
elides acknowledgment of films composite nature (Garcia 240).6
Thus any attempt to critique the film on its own merits as an adaptation
without seeing it as a broken promise of textual fidelity becomes virtually irresolvable, illustrating the impasse reached in adaptation studies
as outlined by Leitch.

Clearly, we must leave behind the evaluative nature of fidelity
as a critique of adaptation. This is a difficult leap to make, particularly when a film promises to give us the authors work, as Branaghs
does. Even directors of more current adaptations, such as the Twilight
saga, the Harry Potter film series, The Hunger Games, The Lord of
the Rings trilogy, and so forth,7 continue to insist publicly that they
want to be as true to the source texts as possible, even knowing that to
do so is not only impossible but artistically stifling. Their deviations
from the text, like those in Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, are often met
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with disapprobation (to put it mildly). Branagh may have promised
us Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, but what he gave us may well be a
modern Prometheus, shedding light upon the as-yet muddy dynamic
between market forces, filmmakers attitudes, audience expectations,
and the role of the literary in culture. This dynamic needs further consideration before adaptation theorists can truly break away from the
tyranny of fidelity.

Julie Sloan Brannon


Jacksonville University

Notes
1
In 1967, Roland Barthes articulated a shift away from an author-centered to a reader-centered paradigm (The Death of the Author printed in
the collection ImageMusicText in 1977). By drawing attention to the fact
that texts consist of multiple, often conflicting points of view that are only
given wholeness by the reader, Barthes revealed that the myth of the godlike
Author perpetuated by traditional criticism was predicated upon a teleological understanding of writing as having a fixed meaning; such meaning was
only available to the critic with specialized knowledge of the authors biography, politics, socio-economic circumstances, and so forth. While the New
Critical notion of the intentional fallacy was already well known, Barthes
married this concept to the deconstructionist view that texts cannot have an
authoritative reading, and thus ensconced the reader as the locus of meaning
in a text rather than the Author. This concept seems critical for adaptation
theory, because film itself is a locus of multiple creative inputs (screenwriter,
director, actors, cinematographer, score composer, producers, among many
others). There is no single author of a film, even though we usually discuss
a film as being the product of the director. How to avoid this practice is tricky,
and so in this essay I continue to refer to Mary Shelleys Frankenstein as
Branaghs; his vision shaped the film from the perspective of director and
star, he is listed as co-producer, and he worked closely with the screenwriter
in the adaptation process. Given the large amount of input these roles gave
him, calling it Branaghs film may be fairly close to reality.
2
As an example, Diehl notes the film adaptation of Jane Eyre (1941),
which not only represented the opening book at the beginning of the film,
it furthermore replaced Bronts original text with one written by the studio, and that the marketing posters for the 1944 film adaptation of Pride and
Prejudice showed Austens book placed between portrayals of the lead actors, Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier (90), Another example of authorial
voice on film occurs in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), where the authors text

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is read out by a woman in voiceover after the opening credits, presumably
the older Scout Finch who narrates the novel. The text is not in fact the first
line of the book, but rather a paraphrase of one that occurs several paragraphs
into the first chapter: Maycomb was a tired old town when I first knew it
(Lee 6).
3
Baldick situates the Creature (and Victors rejection of its ugliness)
within a tradition of Romantic philosophy that [t]he parts, in a living being,
can only be as beautiful as the animating principle which organizes them, and
if this spark of life proceeds, as it does in Victors creation, from tormented
isolation and guilty secrecy, the resulting assembly will only . . . display its
moral ugliness (35). For Baldick, Victors response to the Creatures ugliness as a living being, even though created of beautiful but lifeless parts,
illustrates a central social critique in the book (the individual is rendered a
lifeless part of the mechanism of society, and thus the amalgam of society is
morally repugnant). Under this reading, Victors response is not a problem
to be solved, but an allegorical commentary. Baldicks analysis is suggestive,
because it connects clearly with the isolation themes found throughout Shelleys novel.
4
The De Lacey family, in the novel, has been exiled from France and
lives a miserable existence in a small cottage in Germany, where the Creature
finds them. The family, Felix and Agatha (a brother and sister) and their blind
father, suffer this fate as the result of Felixs impassioned attempt to free an
unjustly imprisoned Turkish official in Paris; the prisoners daughter, Safie,
is Felixs love interest and through a melodramatic series of events ends up
in the cottage with the De Laceys. The story is improbable but gives Shelley
opportunities to insert a touch of the exotic as well as a counterpoint to Victor: Felix De Laceys willingness to risk all in the name of justice contrasts
with Victors cowardice in the face of Justines predicament. The De Laceys
serve a crucial function in the novel, as they provide a haven for the Creature
and an example of human goodness to contrast with the cruel treatment he
has thus far encountered (Shelley 113-134).
5
While birth imagery, and the male appropriation of birth, in Shelleys
Frankenstein has been well-discussed since the 1970s (Ellen Moers, Sandra
Gilbert, and Susan Gubar broke ground on this topic), the earlier film versions elide this dimension of the creation scene. It is likely that such a reading was not considered until the advent of feminist criticism; in any case, the
Whale films suppress the connection to biology through a focus on machinery in their creation scenes. However, Branaghs film is clearly influenced by
the monstrous birth interpretation and presents the reproductive imagery
overtly: the spark of life is provided not by lightning from the heavens as
in Whales film, but through spermatozoa-like electric eels swarming and
bumping around the Creatures waiting body, which is floating in a tank full
of heated amniotic fluid. Branagh does not discuss this theme as something
he is preserving from Shelleys work even though it is certainly present in
the film, a curious omission given his mission of being truer to the novel.

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A further layer adding complexity to this issue is the role of the screenwriter in adaptation. The 2008 collection Authorship in Film Adaptation,
edited by Jack Boozer, explores the strange place of the screenplay, which
rarely sees light as a finished work in and of itself but often provides the most
illuminating look at the process of adapting novels into films.
7
The films in the Twilight series are: Twilight (2008); The Twilight Saga:
New Moon (2009); The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010); The Twilight Saga:
Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (2011); The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2
(2012). The films in the Harry Potter series are: Harry Potter and the Sorcerors Stone (2001); Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002); Harry
Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004); Harry Potter and the Goblet of
Fire (2005); Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007); Harry Potter
and the Half-Blood Prince (2009); Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,
Part 1 (2010); and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011).
The release dates for the Lord of the Rings trilogy are: The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring (2001); The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
(2002); and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). As of yet,
the Hunger Games series has released only one film, The Hunger Games, in
2012. Production has begun on the second in the series, Catching Fire, which
is expected to be released in 2013 (Staskiewicz).
6

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Julie Sloan Brannon

Works Cited
Aragay, Mireia. Reflection to Refraction: Adaptation Studies Then and
Now. Introduction. Books in Motion: Adaptation, Intertextuality,
Authorship. Ed. Mireia Aragay. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005. 11-34.
Netlibrary. Web. 22 July 2012.
Baldick, Chris. In Frankensteins Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and
Nineteenth Century Writing. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987. Print.
Barthes, Roland. The Death of the Author. ImageMusicText. Trans.
Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977. Print.
Branagh, Kenneth. A Tale for All Time. Mary Shelleys Frankenstein: The
Classic Tale of Terror Reborn on Film. Ed. Diana Landau. New
York: Newmarket, 1994. 9-10. Print.
---. Frankenstein Reimagined. Mary Shelleys Frankenstein: The Classic
Tale of Terror Reborn on Film. Ed. Diana Landau. New York:
Newmarket,1994. 17-29. Print.
Boozer, Jack, ed. Authorship in Film Adaptation. Austin: U of Texas P,
2008. Print.
Bride of Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale. Writ. William Hurlbut. Perf. Colin
Clive, Boris Karloff, and Elsa Lanchester. Universal Pictures,
1935. Film.
Darabont, Frank, and Steph Lady. Mary Shelleys Frankenstein.
Screenplay. Mary Shelleys Frankenstein: The Classic Tale of
Terror Reborn on Film. Ed. Diana Landau. New York: Newmarket,
1994. 30-139. Print.
Diehl, Karen. Once Upon an Adaptation: Traces of the Authorial on Film.
Books in Motion: Adaptation, Intertextuality, Authorship. Ed.
Miriea Aragay. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005. 89-106. Netlibrary.
Web. 22 July 2012.
Garcia, Pedro Javier Pardo. Beyond Adaptation: Frankensteins
Postmodern Progeny. Books in Motion: Adaptation,
Intertextuality, Authorship. Ed. Miriea Aragay. Amsterdam:
Rodopi, 2005. 223-42. Netlibrary. Web. 22 July 2012.
Gilbert, Sandra and Susan Gubar. Horrors Twin: Mary Shelleys
Monstrous Eve. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer
and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. Newhaven: Yale
UP, 1979. 213-247. Print.
Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale. Writ. John L. Balderston. Perf. Boris
Karloff, Mae Clarke, and Colin Clive. Universal Pictures, 1931.
Film.
Frankenstein. Dir. J. Searle Dawley. Writ. J. Searle Dawley. Perf. Augustus
Phillips and Charles Ogle. Edison Studios, 1910. Film. Accessed at

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The Internet Archive. Web. 23 Mar. 2012.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition. New York:
Grand Central Publishing, 1960. Print.
Leitch, Thomas. Twelve Fallacies in Contemporary Adaptation Theory.
Criticism (Spring 2003).Wayne State UP. CBS Interactive. CBS
Interactive Business Network, 01 Aug. 2004. Web. 22 Mar. 2012.
---. The Ethics of Infidelity. Adaptation Studies: New Approaches. Eds.
Dennis Cutchins and Christa Albrecht-Crane. Madison, NJ:
Fairleigh Dickinson, 2010. 61-77. Print.
Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Writ. Frank Darabont
and Steph Lady. Perf. Kenneth Branagh, Helena Bonham Carter,
Robert DeNiro. Tristar Pictures, 1994. Film.
Moers, Ellen. Female Gothic. The Endurance of Frankenstein:
Essays on Mary Shelleys Novel. Eds. George Levine and U. C.
Knoepflmacher. Berkeley: U of California P, 1979. 77-87. Print.
Runyon, Carl. Untitled Lecture Notes. Lecture. Owensboro Community
College. Owensboro, KY. N.d. Web. 23 July 2012.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. 1831. Ed.
Maurice Hindle. London: Penguin, 1992. Print.
---. Authors Introduction to the Standard Novels Edition (1831).
Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Ed. Maurice Hindle.
London: Penguin, 1992. Print.
Staskiewicz, Keith. Francis Lawrence Confirmed as Catching Fire
Director. Entertainment Weekly 3 May 2012. EW.com. Web. 8
Aug. 2012.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Dir. Robert Mulligan. Writ. Horton Foote. Perf.
Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Robert Duvall. Universal Pictures,
1963. Film.
Julie Sloan Brannon is an Associate Professor of English at Jacksonville University. She has taught courses on Jane Austen and film adaptations, science
fiction films, detective fiction and film, Southern literature, and the vampire in
fiction and film, in addition to regular offerings in British and American literature. While she is rather late to the adaptation theory party, shehas been using
the Frankenstein/Branagh adaptation off and on in courses since 1998.She
has published on a range of topics, from Joyces Ulysses to Buffy the Vampire
Slayer.

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Book Reviews
An invitation to reviewers

In forthcoming issues, Studies in Popular Culture will continue to include reviews of books in the field. Any scholar who
wishes to review a book should contact the Book Review Editor,
David Janssen, at djanssen@gdn.edu. Those whose work is unfamiliar to the editor may wish to send a CV.

Reviewers may suggest a book to be reviewed or request
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In some cases, review essays of 1,000-1200 words may be assigned. Queries are welcome.

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