2010 09 16 Kim Stanley Robinson Gues of Honour Speech
Victor Frankenstein’s ﬁrst name has been inexplicably changed to Henry and the Henry (Clerval) of the novel has now become Victor (Moritz). Henry’s bride- to-be, Elizabeth, is still an important character, but most of the rest of the characters are new, including the lab-oratory assistant Fritz, Henry’s father Baron Frankenstein, and Henry’s medical schoolteacher Dr. Waldman (although the name, but not the character, is the same as the novel’s M. Waldman, Victor’s chemistry professor at the university).
Frankenstein (Shelley), the horror aspects of the story are emphasized in the ﬁlm, particularly in the early quest for bodies and brains and the terriﬁc laboratory scene for the creation of the monster. For the most part, these incidents were skipped over in Mary Shelley’s novel. Perhaps most importantly, there is the face of the ﬁlm monster, an iconic image of popular culture. With his ﬂat top, sunken cheeks, bulging forehead and stitches and scars, along with the electrodes in his neck, the monster is the epitome of horror.
Fortunately, no attempt was made to replicate Mary Shelley’s description of her own creation. She wrote, in Chapter V, His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and ﬂowing ; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips.