Young scientist Henry Frankenstein has discovered a magnetic fluid that makes it possible to bring a human back to life by placing a new brain into a dead body. A mistake by his assistant, however, results in the implantation of the brain of a maddened criminal. The recreated man turns out to be cruel, ferocious and highly dangerous. Upon awakening he kills the doctor’s assistant and his friend and then flees in search of the individual responsible for having given him life. Henry had returned to his native town to marry his fiancée. When the monster’s presence in the village has been ascertained, a merciless hunt is organised. The scientist is saved at the last minute from dying at the hand of his own creation, who in turn dies a horrible death, incinerated.
This is the first and most famous of the film renditions of Mary Shelley’s novel. It gave rise to a long series of remakes over a 50-year span (a phenomenon repeated with Whale’s The Invisible Man, also presented here). This is a masterpiece of the horror genre, directed in a simple, direct and fluid manner, allowing the set and gothic ambience to take precedence. The film deals with many still topical issues such as the possibilities and limitations of a science that aspires at challenging death and the accountability of those who violate the presumed laws of Nature, wanting to resemble God by creating life. On the other hand, however, Frankenstein’s monstrous creation could also be viewed as a symbolic and metaphysical manifestation of man, tormented and torn between acceptance and hatred for one who has created imperfect things.