Mary Shelly’s immortal Frankenstein deserves a modern-day adaptation that brings her story into the 21st century and introduces it to an entirely new generation of viewers. While there have been numerous film adaptations to date, they generally have fallen upon mixed reviews, to be generous. Diluting the story and themes, as in 2014’s, iFrankenstein; Victor’s Monster has inconceivably become some type of action hero. Therefore, I purpose that we embark upon a film adaptation set in the modern day, taking into account modern-day social/societal dynamics & challenges, politics, technology, burgeoning innovations and ethics. With so many themes that can be expanded upon from a new adaptation, there would be more than enough content to develop multiple films.
I have made an attempt to draw upon Shelly’s original works in an attempt to identify some of the key structure of her story that can be easily adapted to captivate audiences of today.
For starters, who is to say that a modern day Frankenstein needs to be constrained by Victor’s monster and its’ physical characteristics so extensively and nauseatingly repeated over and over in film adaptations (E.g. the patchwork of body parts, grotesque appearance, lumbering physical characteristics, etc.)? Instead, the focuses should be on current attempts to develop AI and human collaborations. utilizing robotic limbs and lab-grown/manufactured organs, anatomical components. Think actorLogan Marshall – Green’s Grey Trace in the recent film Upgrade or 2014 remake, Robo Cop’s Alex Murphy, both have undergone some type of metamorphosis and become new characters.
In Shelly’s novel Robert Walton, who takes up Victor Frankenstein’s quest to find and kill the monster but never does, remarks on how nothing is impossible in their current age, how knowledge and progress are inherently good.
This theme that knowledge and progress are inherently good allows for an intertextual representation of Frankenstein. A new film adaptation should not feel constrained to the physical construction of a monster, a story set forth in modern day could and should explore current philosophical debates that connect consciousness and AI and the increasing connection between man and machine.
Furthermore, where Shelly chooses to focus on the impact that the monster has on Victor and those he loves, a modern-day adaptation should focus on the impact that the introduction of a modern day monster has on the world that it has been introduced to. Tackling philosophical issues like what constitutes a human being, what differentiates AI from human thought, and at what point does a machine become human and human become a machine.
There is also another avenue that could be approached one in which the application of real-time theories and current scientific research is used to develop a monster that is far more plausible than Shelly’s original and far closer to the horizon then the story than 2015’s Ex Machina.
I suggest drawing upon current events such as the recent news of Yale neuroscientist Nenad Sestan and his team, reanimating pigs’ brains. Sestan managed to pump the brains with artificial blood using a system called BrainEx, and they were able to bring them back to life for up to 36 hours (Curtis, 2018). Basing an adaptation upon real-time science and event would add to the believability. I would also suggest that the new film is shot documentary style so as to add to the realism, a la The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield.
By creating an adaptation that focuses on these key points a new film would captivate and provoke thought for an entirely new audience.
Curtis, B. (2018). Scientists reanimate disembodied pigs’ brains – but for a human mind, it could be a living hell. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/scientists-reanimate-disembodied-pigs-brains-but-for-a-human-mind-it-could-be-a-living-hell-95903