Boris Karloff plays the role of the ‘monster’, a mute brute with a madman’s brain, now a timeless and definitive image.
Incredible circumstances led Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin to write about Dr Frankenstein and his Promethean ambition.
Frankenstein was conceived by the 18-year old Mary (soon to be Shelley) while she was with her stepsister Claire Clairmont, the poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Byron’s physician John Polidori.
This 1931 adaptation of the story of Frankenstein for Universal Pictures cast Boris Karloff in the role of the monster, creating the definitive and most memorable image of Frankenstein’s monster.
The film took a few liberties with Mary Shelley’s original tale, such as Fritz, the hunchback assistant to Frankenstein, while the scientist’s laboratory at the top of a derelict windmill owes a debt to German expressionism.
The film contained many controversial scenes, ensuring that it would run into trouble with censorship boards all over the world, and it wasn’t until 1985 that a restored version of the full film was made available, uncut.
This special screening in the atmospheric surrounds of Left Bank Leeds acknowledges the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s book.
After the film, Dr. Joe Saunders, a philosopher at Durham University, will offer some thoughts on life, death and creation.