Old and Young Frankenstein
Something that interested me greatly about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was the treatment that the
creature received from Frankenstein and the other people around him. I often wonder how things
would have turned out had he been treated with a little bit of humanism and compassion, especially
by his creator. What if Frankenstein had taken the responsibility as the creature's parent and
created him with a little humanism and kindness? Would the creature have vowed such revenge
and killed everyone Victor cared about? I'm going to use the film Young Frankenstein from 1974
to show what happened when the creature, created this time by Victor's grandson, Frederick,
received better treatment. Although the film is meant as a parody of all the films based on the
novel, underlying this humor are more serious points, one of which is the concern with the way the
creature is considered.
The first step is to make a comparison between the film and the novel, and to look at the 1931 film
version, since the humor in Young Frankenstein seems to be greatly parodying that film. The
Frankenstein in this film version is Frederick, the grandson of Victor, who is a lecturer on
neurosurgeons in New York. He receives news of his grandfather's will, and he goes off to
Transylvania to claim his ancestral estate, there finding the plans of his grandfather's for the
construction of a creature. The plot is very loosely based on Shelley's Frankenstein as a model,
but it's continued into the twentieth century with a different generation. Of course, when looking at
the novel, it seems quite impossible that Victor could possibly have had a grandchild, mostly
because he died before propagating any children. Perhaps Brooks chose to have the grandson in
order to have the film based in the twentieth century, in order to use more modern themes. For the
sake of the comparison anyway, we will assume that the Victor of the novel is comparable to
Frederick of the film.
Like the 1931 film version of Frankenstein, this version makes use of the assistant Igor, who, for
comic effect, has a hunchback that keeps switching sides. There is Inga, the beautiful blonde
assistant, who also works with Frederick, and is there for humor. Lots of thunder, lightening and
darkness are used to make the atmosphere scary and teeming with danger, much as the 1931 film.
There is great focus on the laboratory scene of creating the monster, as most films tend to do; as
we well know, none of that was contained in Mary Shelley's version. Shelley hadn't the scientific
knowledge to plan such a thing, and also wanted to keep with a focus on the social and humanist
aspects of the creature's construction and development.
Frederick's first night in the castle, he discovers his grandfather's laboratory and his notes for how...