Saturday, 16 March 2019

Frankenstein’s Creature

d. Sam Ashurst; w. James Swanton; p. Craig Hinde; cast: James Swanton

The first British Frankenstein film for 45 years (TV movies and US co-productions notwithstanding) is an extraordinary avant-garde piece of filmed theatre. Swanton (Double Date) debuted his one-man adaptation of Shelley’s novel in 2015, telling the well-worn tale entirely from the Creature’s viewpoint. Film journo Ashurst shot this in 2018 as a single take – static, wide shot, monochrome – yet this is much more than just a camera pointed at an actor. Swanton performs his 90-minute monologue in an alcove of an old church, his only props some clothes and a wooden chest, his face pancaked like Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs, his theatricality and voice just this side of Donald Wolfit. Sometimes he approaches the camera and addresses us directly, sometimes he is still for over a minute, sometimes Ashurst overlays images of Icelandic wilderness or close-ups of Swanton. Mesmerising and utterly brilliant, this premiered at the 2018 Frightfest. Lawrie Brewster released a limited run of 200 DVDs. You do need to be reasonably familiar with the novel and not (like the bozo who reviewed this for Variety) just have seen a couple of Frankenstein films.

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