Thursday, September 15, 2011


For my senior capstone class I am taking Frankenstein in Literature and Film.  It's been a good class so far.  Yesterday we screened James Whale's 1931 movie Frankenstein and received the assignment to write an analysis of one frame and on sequence from the movie.  I've decided to share a little of my writings for this class on my blog and to use this as a place to maybe think out loud about the class as we look at the many variations of Mary Shelley's famous monster. So, as introduction I think I'll share what I wrote about a frame from the opening scene of the movie.

The frame I chose is near the beginning of the movie when Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz are digging a recently interred body from the ground. This frame is an extreme long shot which takes in several grave markers, the dark sky, the grave robbers, and the skeletal statue in the back right of the shot. As Dr. Frankenstein and Fritz are bent over digging up the earth, the skeleton, dressed in dark robes and resting his hands on the pommel of an unsheathed sword looms over the men, a silent witness to the desecration of the grave and death itself.
The mis-en-scene in this frame does much to set the tone and expectations for the rest of the movie. The prominent feature in this shot is the skeleton watching over the cemetery as Death himself watches over the dead. Even the grave markers seem to lean towards the statue of Death drawing the eye to him. It leaves no question that Death is the one who rules in the cemetery, protecting either the dead from the living or the living from the dead with his terrible sword. Thus, with their minds on Death, the audience sees and feels the wrongness of the desecration of the grave done by Frankenstein and Fritz  Here we have men stealing a body out from under Death's nose, an analogy for the work Dr. Frankenstein intends to do.


  1. Nice to see you posting on the blog, Sam. Do you have Lundquist for Lit and Film?

  2. Thanks for checking it out Derrick. I forgot that everyone from the class is still probably subscribed. I don't have Lundquist. It's Perry that's teaching it. It's a great class.

  3. I swear I commented on this post... maybe god is mad at me for talking during huddle the other night.