The Frankenstein Chronicles

If you guys are looking for something spooky to watch this Halloween, check out The Frankenstein Chronicles on Netflix.

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Sean Bean stars as John Marlott, a London investigator tracking down the origin of a disturbing creation: a corpse that is actually an amalgamation of multiple children.  Does it have something to do with the Anatomy Act that the Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel, is trying to pass?  Or with Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein and theories of galvanism?  The show has wonderful atmosphere and suspense.  I really liked the twists in the first season, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes in the second season, which is now available.

The science of the show is pretty hand-wavey, but that’s forgivable given the show’s strengths.  It does incorporate several real historical figures and events, including Peel, Shelley, and William Blake.  It is set about ten years after the publication of Frankenstein, which was a great choice because not only can we see the impact of the novel on society, but it also gives the show a more steampunk vibes, being closer to the Victorian era than the Regency.

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The show is clearly inspired by Frankenstein itself, and I think this interpretation is preferable to another straight adaptation of the novel.  It gives a great perspective on the monster!  When Marlott reads the novel in the show, it inspired me to finally read the classic story, which is very different than the popular conception of it.

Here are some Frankenstein Facts:

  1. This year is the 200th anniversary of its publication.
  2. Mary Shelley was only 18 when she conceived of the idea for the novel, after a suggestion by the poet Byron that he, Mary, and her future husband poet Percy Bysshe Shelley each write a ghost story as a kind of party game.
  3. It is an epistolary novel, written as a series of letters and journal entries.
  4. Its subtitle is “The Modern Prometheus,” after the Titan that helped create man, then gave them fire in defiance of Zeus (only to be sentenced to an eternity of solitary torment).
  5. It was ranked #43 on the Great American Read list.
  6. Popular conception of the story comes from the Universal Pictures 1930s series of movies starring Boris Karloff as the monster, as well as the later Hammer Films series of movies starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
  7. It is considered one of the progenitors of the science fiction genre.

As a novel, I found Frankenstein mildly underwhelming.  I’m not sold on the framing narrative involving an Arctic explorer writing letters home to his sister, and the prose lacks the wit of my Regency favorite Jane Austen.  However, as a forerunner to modern sci-fi, its importance cannot be overstated.  At its heart, science fiction is not about spaceships and plagues, but about society.  Frankenstein deals with scientific inquiry, or more specifically how far it should go.  Just because we are capable of doing something, should it be done?  Is it ever okay to “play God?”

In this way, the story is similar to another sci-fi favorite, Jurassic Park (#52 on the GAR list).  Holly at Nut Free Nerd has a great comparison of the two stories as part of her Classic Couples series.

 

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What are you reading and watching for Halloween?

 

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11 thoughts on “The Frankenstein Chronicles

  1. jenchaos76 October 31, 2018 / 11:48 am

    Frankenstein is one of my favorite characters from the old days. He has been redone so many times and I wonder which retelling is better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Madame Writer October 31, 2018 / 2:45 pm

    This series looks so good! I have to check it out. Thank you for the recommendation. I just hope that Sean Bean doesn’t die in this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. nerdgirlsonly October 31, 2018 / 6:28 pm

    This show seems really interesting. I saw a play adaptation of Frankenstein recently, and it was superb. A lot of the plot points were different to make the story similar, but it was even more horrifying than the book. I must disagree about Shelley’s writing, though. Maybe there was a lack of wit, but I liked how her imagery captured how unnatural the creature was.

    Like

  4. For Tyeth March 15, 2019 / 10:26 pm

    Hello Mei-Mei,

    I said I would come and have a look at some of your older posts and reviews! I have Netflix on my cable box but I never seem to be able to afford to subscribe or rent anything.

    I noticed in the “Frankenstein Facts” list you mention two Star Wars actors in Mr Cushing and Mr Lee but you forgot to mention a third SW actor played the monster in three films – David Prowse was the monster in “Casino Royale”, “The Horror of Frankenstein” and “Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell”!

    But I’m guessing you all prefer the debonair looks of Sean Bean 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei March 16, 2019 / 7:35 am

      Thank you for correcting my omission of David Prowse! I admit I have not seen any of the Universal monster movies. (And I probably wouldn’t recognize Prowse haha).
      I certainly do prefer Sean Bean 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      • For Tyeth March 16, 2019 / 8:28 am

        Hello again, no worries. With David Prowse’s bodybuilding career he was the perfect option to cast as the giant monster creation. However he did have a bit of prosthetic make up on. I knew about him because when I was a youngling Prowse also starred in a Govt sponsored road safety campaign on TV as “The Green Cross Code Man” and it was mentioned he had an acting career in movies too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mei-Mei March 16, 2019 / 8:38 am

        One of my favorite things about blogging is how much I learn from all my fellow Star Wars fans!

        Liked by 1 person

      • For Tyeth March 16, 2019 / 8:41 am

        Hi, yes I feel the same, and another great thing is that blogging like we do is much more friendly than using some of the forums, message boards and Social Media!

        Liked by 1 person

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