Robert De Niro’s wailing

- Nick Setchfield

From the authorial stamp of its title to its operatic tone, Mary Shelley’s Frankenste­in is clearly positioned as a companion to 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Dracula director Francis Ford Coppola has a producer’s credit).

It’s a reasonably faithful take on Shelley’s novel, but let’s be clear: this is Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenste­in. He not only cuts a leonine dash as the titular resurrecti­onist but directs in florid style, his camera ever-wheeling, his cast cranked up to 11. The backdrops are grand, the costumes sumptuous, and the set-piece creation of the creature is a showstoppi­ng technologi­cal perversion of human birth.

The film may stumble on the fine line between the Gothic and the overripe, but Robert De Niro’s Creature holds the dignity and tragedy at the heart of the tale, his eyes a still point in the storm.

Extras Film historians Michael Brooke and Johnny Mains provide commentary. A featurette on the original novel has contributi­ons from horror mavens David Pirie, Jonathan Rigby and Stephen Volk (30 minutes); the same team share their thoughts on Branagh’s movie (15 minutes).

New interviews with costume designer James Acheson (15 minutes), composer Patrick Doyle (13 minutes) and make-up artist Daniel Parker (14 minutes) offer valuable first-hand insights. Also included is the first ever Frankenste­in film from 1910

(13 minutes), a “liberal adaptation” produced by Thomas Edison that provides a fascinatin­g glimpse of the transition from stage magic to screen special effects. Plus: trailers, gallery; booklet.

Actors in the frame to play the Creature reportedly included Gérard Depardieu, Andy Garcia and Arnold Schwarzene­gger.

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“Oh Hermione, you’re just so prissy.”
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