The Bride Reviews
As a movie, this production has a lot of problems. Like I said earlier, there are many elements of the film that are never explained and just assume you know the mythology of Frankenstein already. It would be helpful if the title somehow managed to include the word "Frankenstein" in it, but it doesn't so I can easily see people walking into this one and not understanding anything for a good thirty minutes. In addition, the conclusion is not particularly great. The doctor turns into a creepy stalker that wants to marry the bride and the sub plot about the psychic link is feeble and unnecessary. I also had problems with some of the performances and thought that the movie missed out on some opportunities by reducing the Frankenstein monster to a dumb oaf. I really don't know if it's fair to give the movie two ratings, and I won't, but I almost wish I could because there's really no reason to see this movie if you are not a huge fan of the Frankenstein story and want something a bit different. It cannot stand on its own because it absolutely demands that you are familiar with the original story, while never being as good as the material it is inspiring itself from.
As a big fan of the characters from Mary Shelley's book, I found myself really enjoying this film. The novel has been interpreted in film and TV so many times that unless you're bringing something new to the table or you've got outstanding performances, special effects or creature designs, there's really no reason to make another one. I have to credit "The Bride" because it brings many interesting elements to the mythology. First of all, we actually have the female monster being brought to life (unlike in the novel) and she's a physically perfect human being, unlike her predecessor. Instead of being abandoned by her creator, she is raised by him, taught to act like a member of civilized society and does not know that she is not a proper human being. There's a lot of interesting things going on there with the female monster growing into her own person and starting to fall in love with another man, much to the disapproval of her creator. The original novel had the monster become evil after being rejected by humanity because of his monstrous appearance and here, we have the opposite effect. The bride is embraced by society and it is the doctor who becomes the villain by wanting to control her. With the monster, we have a really heartwarming story of it befriending another outcast, similar to the chapter in the novel where it befriends a blind man. A lot of movies based on "Frankenstein" do not go far enough in the makeup and special effects used to depict the monster. It ends up looking like a regular guy with a couple of scars or stitches (I'm looking at you, "I, Frankenstein"). Here, that actually works in the film's favor because the idea is that people seem to be able to accept the monster and just assume it's a guy that's been mistreated or is a little bit deformed, not some abomination from hell. It's still an outcast because of its overall lack of knowledge and intelligence but that's when Rinaldo comes in. These two have a lot of good moments together, some of which are pretty sweet and some of which are funny. It reminded me of the relationship between Lenny and Carl in "Of Mice and Men", with the smaller, clever guy looking out for the big guy out of love and friendship and the two making a perfect team (I didn't say it was as good mind, you, just that it's similar). They even have the monster earning itself a name, Viktor, something that isn't usually done. Why, in the thousands of names out there they had to choose the name of the doctor in the original novel, I don't know but it was refreshing to see the creation turn into a real human being in that way. The middle of the film is quite strong and it does make a decent, but flawed sequel to the classic "Bride of Frankenstein"... even though there already is one.
A lot of people are going to dismiss this one completely and there's only a small audience that will appreciate it, but I'm going to be true to myself and give this one a mild recommendation. I'm not saying it's perfect, not even close. I am telling you that if you hear the premise and you think it sounds interesting, and you've seen both of the James Whale "Frankenstein" movies, check it out. (On Dvd, January 18, 2014)
So the film starts off with them making The Bride, and his monster basically runs away, so for most of the film we have Frankenstein training The Bride to become a real woman, and Beals is pretty great here. She is super adorable and I liked when she started growing her own brain and started bucking his teachings. Like he taught her how to act human, but she taught herself how to be a human.
The other story is the Monster joining the circus with a tiny person, played to perfection by Rappaport. He is really good and the friendship bond they form is really the best plot point here.
And Clancy Brown as the Monster is the heart of the film. He plays him not a monster of rage, but one that is more interested in compassion and love. He only kills when needed.
Elwes is in here, but not sure why. He only has like 2-3 scenes, and nothing of his character really goes anywhere.
I did find this film to be quite hardcore for it's PG-13 rating. You see at least one gore shot that probably should've made it R, and maybe the first totally full frontal nude shot in a non-R rated film I have ever seen. Just an FYI if you watch with children around.
Doctor Frankenstein is known for creating the creature and is still in the process of perfecting his craft. He wishes to create the perfect woman that is considered equal to man. He goes back to the drawing board, pulls up some new body parts, and brings a female to life. He moves forward with domesticating and educating her and then presents her to society. How will the creature and society react to Frankenstein's new invention?
"Those who will not work will not eat. That's part of god's plan."
Franc Roddman, director of K2, War Party, The Lords of Discipline, and Dummy, delivers The Bride. The storyline for this picture is fairly predictable but the input of the midget and circus sub plot was fascinating. The acting was slightly above average and the cast includes Sting, Jennifer Beals, Clancy Brown, Anthony Higgings, and Geraldine Page.
"I was frightened."
"Of a cat?"
"You never told me about cats. I thought it was a little lion."
The Bride is a movie my wife came across and DVR'd based on its fascinating cast and premise. There were aspects of this film that I found extremely fun and there were aspects, specifically around Sting's performance, that made me roll my eyes. Overall, this is an entertaining film that is worth your time and at least one viewing.
"Yes, I am a man...in every sense of the word if you catch my drift."
Grade: C+/B- (6.5)
According to IMDB, it took sixteen days to film Quentin Crisp's part. Quentin Crisp is onscreen for about the first five or ten minutes. I grant you that this is a special effects-intensive five or ten minutes, this is true. On the other hand, there was really no reason for him to have been on the set for most of the filming. Even in most of the long shots, you can't see him. It almost makes me wonder if he was hanging about because he didn't have much else to do. He later told Sting that he looked forward to becoming a US citizen because it would mean he could commit a crime without getting deported. (Leading to "Englishman in New York," one of my favourite Sting songs.) So you figure he had the spare time to contemplate these things, which in turn means he had the spare time to hang about the set, watching Timothy Spall as the Igor-type nearly get killed.
Crisp is Dr. Zahlus, and the Igor-type is Paulus, and they work for Baron Charles Frankenstein (Sting). We come in at what rather feels like the end of the movie. Frankenstein and the others are dashing about, bringing a woman to life as the Monster (Clancy Brown) watches, given she is to be his Bride. But things go awry, and things explode, and Frankenstein barely makes it out of the tower with Jennifer Beals. The Monster escapes, too. Each of the Baron's creations leaves the lab in their own way. The Monster encounters Rinaldo (David Rappaport), a dwarf intent on Budapest and the circus. The dwarf takes the Monster on as a protector and protects him as well, naming the Monster Viktor. Meanwhile, Frankenstein is captured by the extraordinary beauty of Jennifer Beals and decides to create in her the perfect woman, a woman who can love him as he deserves to be loved and be worthy of his own love in return. Each in their own way moves toward independence, which Rinaldo encourages and Frankenstein fears.
Alas, the movie tends to drag a bit when the Pretty People are onscreen. (Cary Elwes even gets a small role as a smug and unpleasant cavalry officer.) It's at least theoretically interesting to watch Eva, as Jennifer Beals gets named, develop into an individual; in part, it's because it's an interesting examination of what being an individual is all about. We know, though she does not, who she is and where she comes from, and it's almost a treatise on the meaning of the Soul. Realistically, Frankenstein doesn't think she has one. He thinks she can be a mirror, reflecting only what he holds up to it. He thinks that, because he is her creator, he owns her. He is taken aback when it turns out that a poem he references is by Keats, as she said, not Shelley, as he did. He thinks he wants an equal, but he wants to be more equal than she is. So much for enlightenment. If it were better written, it would not have just been an opportunity to watch Beals and Sting and Elwes, oh my.
Conversely, the bits with Viktor and Rinaldo are quite enjoyable. Viktor, too, is exploring what it means to be human, but Rinaldo is pleased every time Viktor is able to do something all on his own. Rinaldo is, after all, more than aware of his own physical limitations, and he knows that Viktor will protect him. However, he also knows that Viktor is not terribly bright and not at all worldly, and he knows that he should protect Viktor. The prime difference, I think, is affection over possession. Rinaldo is perfectly aware that he has no ties over Viktor beyond the bonds of friendship, and he doesn't ever attempt to suggest that it is or should be any other way. He has a dream, too, and he shares it with a construct. But "share" is the operative word. He dreams of going to Venice with his friend. While Eva has the chance to see the Wide World without going out into it, Viktor has no choice but to go out into it and see what there is to see and who he will find there.
Of course, there's not much Shelley to be had here outside that one little throwaway reference to her husband. Viktor gets the first name of the original character; the Monster of the book never got a name. Similarly, the eponymous Bride never got life. Victor Frankenstein destroyed her at the very thought of the race of monsters they could breed. How beautiful she would be is likewise doubtful. It is still further true, as I've mentioned before, that the book never actually says how the Monster is brought to life. Rather specifically doesn't say. He says he would not record that information out of fear that someone else would do it. Which shows, I think, a great understanding of human nature. All the cautionary tales in the world matter naught if the opportunity to perform the foolish act is left open. If Frankenstein recorded how to create life--and if it were possible, in our world, to do so--someone would take his instructions and do it. And someone who would do that would have the hubris to follow the rest of the story almost to the letter, deaths and all.