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Frankensteincreatedwoman

Poster from the 1967 film production, Frankenstein Created Woman. Directed by Terence Fisher.[1]

Frankenstein Created Woman was released in 1967 by the popular film company Hammer Film Productions as part of its Hammer Studios Series. The film was directed by Terrence Fisher and produced by Anthony Nelson Keys.

Synopsis Edit

Frankenstein Created Woman begins with a young boy, Hans, witnessing the execution of his father, an accused murderer. The film’s plot progresses to when Hans is much older and is working as a lab assistant for Baron Frankenstein.  Helping the other assistant revive the frozen Frankenstein back to life, Hans and Dr. Hertz complete the reanimation of life according to Frankenstein’s detailed instructions. Discovering that the soul doesn’t leave the body immediately after death, Frankenstein becomes inspired to continue his experiments in harboring souls with his own force field invention.

Major Themes Edit

Monster vs. Human Edit

Falling away from Shelley’s original description of Frankenstein’s handiwork on the creature, Frankenstein Created Woman breaks the tradition of the piece-mill process in creating Frankenstein’s monster. No longer stitching together various body parts, the process in creating this new creature is simply the transferring of souls from one body to the next. As seen in the novel and other film adaptations, such as Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Frankenstein’s monster is a horrible figure to look at and scares away many people at first sight. This traditional fear of the “other” or unusual being is great to capture immediate fear. However, because of this new experiment in Frankenstein Created Woman, the creature becomes less of a horrible, unfamiliar monster and instead closer to a human’s original form. Even though the appearance of the new creature seems less threatening, this method proposes a new fear that a monster could be lurking in anyone. What is it like to be human or monster? Can they co-exist inside one another? This film questions these ideas as Christina is able to seduce men as a means of revenge. By looking recognizably human, the victims of the creature are completely charmed by her beauty and don’t see the harm that she possesses. Showing that a beautiful human form can slaughter three men confirms that humans can be monsters, even if they don’t look like one.

Femininity Edit

What is it like to be feminine? Frankenstein Created Woman certainly takes on this theme of femininity and questions what makes a gender particularly feminine. The only leading female character in the film is Christina. When she is introduced, we see her with a deformed beauty – the left side of her face is badly scarred, she has a limp in her walk, and her fine motor skills are very limited. Introducing her character in this manner defies the traditional descriptions of feminine beauty.  According to the romanticized notion of what it means to be feminine, a woman generally possesses a flawless face, the ability to walk tall and straight, and is sought after by several male suitors. However, Christina is the exact opposite of this description. The three rebel men even mock her during their faux Shakespearian song saying that she’ll remain in a “virgin bed” and only the heavens will weep for the “ugliest angel of them all”. Moreover, the question on what it means to be feminine continues as a male soul lives in a female body. It isn't until the transformation of Han’s soul into Christina’s body that we see her appearance become flawless and very womanly. She no longer wears the long-sleeve work attire covering her entire body. Her new attire becomes sexualized with low cleavage partially exposing her breast during the seduction scenes. Also, she now has blonde hair which is frequently pulled back to expose her entire healed face and slender neck. Moreover, it is important to remember that all of these new feminine descriptions only occur after Han’s male soul has possessed her body. Perhaps this depiction proposes the idea that the physical appearance isn't what makes a gender feminine, but instead the soul defines her gender.

Social Class Edit

An underlying theme to Frankenstein Created Woman revolves around the social class in which the characters find themselves residing in.  Frequently throughout the film, a huge divide is seen between the working class and the upper middle class. As an example, the owner of the local tavern stands in for the lower working class whereas the three pompous men represent a higher middle class. In further detail, the father is willing to risk his daughter’s self-esteem just to get the business from the three men. Seeing them in their clean suits and toppers, he does everything he can to keep their business and get the money he deserves.  When the three haughty men request that Christina should serve them or they’ll take their business elsewhere, the owner doesn’t resist her from doing so and making a complete fool of her disability. Spending their money just to watch the humility of a lower class working girl and getting drunk on wine characterizes the three men’s social class and irresponsibility on the management of money. At one point in the film, it is implied that the three men never work for their money but rather inherit it from their father. How can someone appreciate money if they’ve never worked to gain it? Moreover, this moment clearly defines the social barrier and themes of both the working and non-working class.

Reception Edit

After recognizing the unique themes that Frankenstein Created Woman brought to the Frankenstein series, it isn’t hard to believe that the film is a huge favorite among Frankenstein lovers. However, little is known on the success it had with the box office as there are few reports or reviews from critics. Although, it is known that Martin Scorsese picked this film as his favorite movie in 1987 stating, “If I single this one out it’s because here they actually isolate the soul… The implied metaphysics are close to something sublime” (Where Beauty & Terror Dance). [2]

Significance of Adaptation Edit

Frankenstein Created Woman not only stands alone as a movie, but is considered to be one of many adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Just like all adaptations from an original source, each one serves to embark its own artistic piece by relying on and inspiring other adaptations. This process keeps the original text alive and thriving. In regards to this Hammer film, making the female creature beautiful is an artistic decision derived from the Universal Production, Bride of Frankenstein (1935).  Bride of Frankenstein was one of the first films to show the iconic image of the Creature’s female companion.  When she is revealed on screen, her face is absolutely perfect with the scars hidden under her chin rather than on her face. Frankenstein Created Woman seems to mimic this idea by having her unwrapped exposing her new beautiful appearance. Unlike the male creature in Bride of Frankenstein, the bride and Christina do not show any signs of scars visible on the face. Both productions support the idea that the doctors took extra time and precision to carefully construct the female creature. Moreover, the perfect image of the female creature in both adaptations inspired the film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) to act in opposition of this representation of the female creature.Moreover, this shows how an adaptation, like Frankenstein Created Woman relied on elements from previous adaptations and inspired future films to go in an opposite direction regarding the beauty of the female creature.

References/ Notes Edit

  1. Poster. Frankenstein Created Woman. http://www.hammerfilms.com/ourwork/37/frankenstein-created-woman
  2. Where Beauty & Terror Dance. 6 June 2011. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://beautyandterrordance.tumblr.com/post/6260279241/frankenstein-created-woman-1967-frankenstein>.

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