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“This is a story that haunted Mary Shelley when she first dreamed it up, and it haunts the imagination still,” said Kenneth Branagh, who portrayed Victor Frankenstein as well as directed Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Robert De Niro also stars as the complex, intelligent, and tragic Creature while Helena Bonham Carter is Victor's beloved Elizabeth.
Central to this version of the Frankenstein saga is love: not only the tragically spurned love of the Creature for his maker, but the great romantic love Victor and Elizabeth have for each other.
“Through Elizabeth's love, Victor has the chance to redeem himself,” says Bonham Carter. “The fact that he doesn't only serves to heighten the tragedy.”
Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as society awaited the dramatic changes that the industrial revolution would bring. Her Gothic fantasy captures perfectly the fears about what science and technology hold in store.
“When I read the original novel,” Branagh said, “I was very forcibly reminded of why this story continues to have such a strong hold on people. The idea of a man playing God and cheating death is a primal myth.”
Producer Francis Ford Coppola said, “I had always loved the novel and had thought of remaking it long before I did Bram Stoker's Dracula. I've always been interested in the classics, particularly in the horror genre, and I'm particularly interested in going back to the original source material.”
One of the elements of the story that Branagh especially wanted to stress was the love between Victor and Elizabeth, played by Helena Bonham Carter.
“Ken and I agreed on the need for Elizabeth to be equal to Victor and not just decorative,” Bonham Carter says. “He wanted a lot of passion and guts, which would make her a strong character, and the film really demanded it.”
But love wasn’t just the theme between Victor and Elizabeth, but also between Victor and his creation.
In describing the Creature and his relationship with Frankenstein, De Niro said, “He's like a rejected child: he wants recognition and love and validation, and he doesn't get any of those things.”
De Niro also praised Branagh’s vision and said, “There are many directors who really know little or nothing about actors. Ken, being an actor himself, understands how they like to work and how they talk. He is terrific.”
Adapted from Sony Pictures Production Notes.