I’ve wanted to start a thread on this subject for some time, as I believe that there’s potential for some interesting discussion and exchanges of opinions.
While Dracula, and vampires in general, because of their openness to interpretation, remain an enduring – and alluring – source of fascination to the goth culture, the tale of Frankenstein – and it’s numerous cinematic interpretations – remains equally potent, despite the fact that, as a symbol, the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and his pitiful creation are, overall, less flexible, less adaptable, to other situations, than the image of the vampire. At source – the original 1818 novel - we don’t have the classic “Good versus Evil” equation which propels the vampire mythos; it is far more complex, far more open to philosophical interpretation, and as such, I believe, becomes a very self-contained statement. If it had been a modern-day piece of cinema, I would have walked away from it thinking, “This is a one-off. No possibility of a sequel, no way you can use this story as a universal archetype.”
Which, to me, makes it fascinating that the Frankenstein story has been so enduring and so embedded itself in popular consciousness. Consider the fate of other classic works of literature of the early to mid nineteenth century; while there are countless adaptations of the works of the Bronte sisters’ novels, or the works of Jane Austen, it isn’t until very recently that anyone has even dreamed of trying to use those works as the basis of a “franchise” (although I do keep in mind the recent trend for post-modern, tongue-in-cheek visits to those literary universes – for example, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”).
So, in this thread, I think it’s worth considering:
1) Mary Shelley’s original novel and its place in gothic culture as a whole (and, indeed, whether it is a gothic novel);
2) The themes of the novel;
3) Whether the novel has necessarily been fairly treated, particularly by cinematic adaptations – has there been a “perfect” Frankenstein adaptaion?
I’m interested in your impressions…