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November 1994, Week 5


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 30 Nov 1994 10:22:53 CST
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when I speak of madness, I am not referring to a raving maniac, or
any other culturally influenced definition of madness, and I am
certainly not looking to see the 1931 James Whale film reaffirmed,
primarily because I have not seen it and also because I have no
desire to see repetition without reason. The madness I refer to is the
madness that Victor himself refers to several times... e.g. in the
ship captain's cabin when he asks if the captain shares his madness,
what I think could surely be viewed as a "mad" need for discovery
and innovation.
The question of following the book is an interesting one, but I
don't think it is of primary importance in this issue. I suppose
this opinion will be poorly received, but there it is. My reasoning -
the film and the novel are distinctly different mediums. What can
slip by in a novel may not in a film, and vice versa. Likewise
what may work in a novel may not in a film. The character Branagh
attempted to construct (however melodramatically) was an individual
obsessed... this obsession led to the demise of everything he had
previously held dear, and perhaps even the demise of what created
his obsession, i.e. his family. In a novel, I believe the writer
can create the tension necessary for art with her ideas and with
the inner devotion of a character's mind (among many other methods).
On film, however, this luxury is not so present, certainly not in a film
as straightforward as Branagh's style dictates... a tension in action
and reaction must exist, and that is why I feel to more convincingly
and compelling raise the issue of modernization and its attraction
and its repulsion Branagh would have done better to mix these emotions
in his reaction to his creation. There is an integrity to remaining
faithful to a source work, but not at the expense of depth.
I have not read the book as has been deftly assumed, however I would
hold that a reading of the book should not be necessary to an
appreciation of the film... if it is, then I feel the film is put
on the level of a teaching aide, something to function as a supplementary
text for individuals studying the book. In that case, it is not so much
a film as a visual version of cliff notes.