What would the 1980’s be known for without big hair, rock bands, and… Frankenstein? Fascinatingly, the decade was obsessed with the story as many film and television adaptations were spawning all over the world. Directed by Franc Roddam, Columbia Pictures' The Bride was released in the United States on August 16th, 1985. Screenplay was written by Lloyd Fonvielle.
The Bride begins in the laboratory of Dr. Baron Frankenstein where a mummified woman lies on a table. Scurrying around the room, Dr. Frankenstein and his assistants struggle to make his second creation alive by using electricity from the brewing storm. The Creature, Frankenstein’s first creation, watches from behind as he awaits “his new bride” to be revived from the dead. Upon a successful experiment, Dr. Frankenstein changes his mind and decides to keep her for himself.
Gender EqualityThe Bride takes on the awareness of a woman’s role in the public and private life. In some ways, this production takes on a feminist approach asserting that women can be equal to men.
Set in the Eighteenth century when women were everything BUT independent, Dr. Frankenstein is proposing several questions. What if the ultimate creation would be to give a woman freedom? Would she become monstrous and devastate the power of a man? Is giving life to a woman not actually worth living if she doesn’t have the freedom to live it? Dr. Frankenstein takes on this new “experiment” by giving Eva independence, such as riding her own horse and reading educational publications. However, Dr. Frankenstein isn’t ready to introduce his experiment to the public. As an example, he lets her read and ride horses all in the private realm of his mansion. However, in the public eye, he dresses her up in all her “feminine beauty” and coaches her to say things that a typical, proper woman would say. With the increase of her knowledge, she becomes rebellious and vocally argues to Victor for equality of genders, “A woman should do as she pleases, just like a man. You taught me that” (The Bride, 1985).  Eva sees that she is just as intelligent as he, and wants more public freedom like a man. She also wants to love as a man does, which is why she later escapes to have sex with a local soldier. Dr. Frankenstein begins to fear her new outward behavior. As a result, the only way he thinks he can suppress her dignity is to rape her. Addressing the power of his gender, his anger attempts to rob her of innocence and freedom to love him at her own will. Representing the factor of rape in the movie sends a message to the audience that men who treat women this way deserve death, like the death of Dr. Frankenstein. The film expresses the idea that women shouldn't be in fear of gaining their independence and looks negatively on those against this idea.
Nature vs. Nurture
The role of Nature versus Nurture is one of the primary themes throughout Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. Making a thematic return, The Bride questions whether Nature or Nurture impacts the development of human behavior. As an example, we see both creatures, Victor and Eva, having minimalistic speech with groans and sporadic words. Being denied by Dr. Frankenstein, Victor’s dialect remains minimal longer than Eva’s dialect. Upon her “adult birth,” Dr. Frankenstein immediately gives her a governess to educate her. The notion of nurturing quickly advances her ability to speak. Victor, however, relies on his natural abilities of gesturing and moaning to show what he wants. It’s not until Rinaldo meets Victor that his language becomes more complex. During the “cave scene,” Rinaldo teaches him qualities such as “sharing” and the ability to “dream for things you want.” Rinaldo becomes a parental figure to Victor and nurtures him into becoming a more “civilized” man rather than “animalistic.” This idea of being born like animals is seen when both Victor and Eva eat. They both grab the food with their hands and begin gnashing the chicken between their teeth. The poor eating habits continue until they are corrected by a parental figure. Thus the film suggest that humans can rely on nature to physically survive (devouring the chicken for food) but needs the nurturing aspect of humans in order to survive cultural norms (attending a public event).
Currently maintaining a 4.1 out of 10 on Rotten Tomatoes, the film hasn’t been a huge favorite of its viewers.  After premiering in 1985, the film received both positive and negative nominations. In 1986, the film was proud to claim Maurice Jarre who was nominated from the Saturn Awards for “Best Music,” and Shirley Russell for “Best Costumes”. However, the film didn’t win any awards and later received a nomination from the Razzie Awards for “Worst Actress,” played by Jennifer Beals.  Squashed tomatoes and nominations aside, the film is worth watching for all Frankenstein lovers.
Significance of Adaptation
Breaking away from the iconic neck bolts and white strips of hair, The Bride attempts to revise the classic Universal film, Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Starting The Bride with a similar “female creation” scene as Bride of Frankenstein, many elements allude back to the Universal film. For example, the female creature is similarly wrapped like a mummy before revealing her beauty. Another attribute that resembles the old film is the female creature’s “hissing” qualities. In Bride of Frankenstein, the final action the “bride” does is hiss like a cat. Several moments throughout Eva’s development in The Bride, she hisses, thus mimicking the former. However, one advancement the new film brings culturally is the female creature breaking free of her animalistic actions and developing into an intelligent woman. Relating back to the central theme of feminism, this film conveys this strong female role unlike the 1935 adaptation. Culturally, The Bride reflects society in 1980 and how women were advancing their rights within the second wave of feminism. However, like Bride of Frankenstein, the film closely relates the perfect female with feminine beauty. Other films such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), give the female creature more agency even without her feminine beauty. Upon her “rebirth,” the ’94 film represents “Elizabeth” with terrible scars and missing half of her hair. Perhaps this film could have represented the female creature with less perfection in appearance like the later 1994 film. As a result, the thematic elements towards feminism in adaptations of Frankenstein continue to grow in order to bring awareness of gender equality. Furthermore, perhaps future adaptations will be able to retrieve and dismiss certain elements from previous films in order to achieve the perfect representation of the female creature.