2018 Countdown to Halloween – Day 31: Frankenstein (2011)
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein
Johnny Lee Miller as The Creature
Naomi Harris as Elizabeth
Karl Johnson as De Lacey
Based on the novel by Mary Shelley
Adapted for the stage by Nick Dear
Produced and Directed by Danny Boyle
Plot: The classic tale of a creature created by a scientist on the quest to discover the secrets of life.
Richard’s Review: I first viewed this amazing rendition of the classic Frankenstein story several years ago with Johnny Lee Miller in the role of Victor and Benedict Cumberbatch as The Creature. It was thoroughly engaging and I’ve been waiting anxiously for another opportunity to see it. This year is my first time seeing them in the opposite roles and I was not disappointed.
There are several differences in this version of the story, such as the opening of the play being the birth of the Creature and the tale being presented from the view of the Creature. We witness the Creature learn how to walk and talk, ultimately becoming very educated and wise despite his physical deformity. He is presented here as compassionate and loving as well as vengeful and vicious. One scene in particular is shocking as it shows the Creature commit an act typically never touched on before.
The music and stark sets help you focus more on the performances of the suberb cast, and there is much to take in. The ending confrontation between Victor and the Creature is stunning as both travel to the North Pole together rather than Victor pursuing the Creature, another key difference in this version.
I highly recommend you seek this out whenever it plays at your nearby theater. It is well worth the price of admission for any Frankenstein fan.
Karla’s Thoughts: I really loved this version except for the rape scene between the Creature and Elizabeth. I wasn’t expecting that and it can be quite shocking for someone more sensitive to such things. Beyond that, I found the story quite compelling with lots of interesting twists to the original story. Victor is nearly as compassionate as he is in other versions while the Creature comes across as more brutal, yet more educated and human than Victor does at times. The round object which the Creature comes out of at the beginning, symbolizing a womb, was quite unique. I also loved the lighting at the top of the stage. I would definitely watch this one again, especially to see Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature.
- This is a filmed presentation of a play that was originally seen at the Royal National Theatre in England. It ran from February 5 through May 2, 2011.
- Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller would alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and The Creature.
- The two versions of the play were recorded on March 17 and 24, 2011 for National Theatre Live.
- Danny Boyles is well known for 28 Days Later (2002) and 28 Weeks Later (2007), which he directed and produced accordingly. He also directed the underrated sci-fi film, Sunshine (2007) and the ward-winning Slumdog Millionaire (2008).
- Both Cumberbatch and Miller won awards for their performances, sharing the Olivier Award for Best Actor. Cumberbatch also won the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Play award.
- The play also won the Olivier Award for Best Lighting for the filament light bulb display above the stage.
Availability: Frankenstein is not available on home video nor will it be in the near future. However, it has been presented annually at Halloween in select theaters through Fathom Events.