The film adaption is faithful to the original text because it maintains roughly the same major plot points and themes. The plot of the novel is complicated; it utilizes epistolary and frame story techniques to convey a tale of many characters in many different points in time and the way they connect to each other. The book begins with Warren, an aspiring discoverer sailing through dangerous, icy waters along with his crew. He rescues a dying Victor Frankenstein from the ice. As they grow acquainted, Frankenstein realizes Warren is headed down the road of destruction he has already traveled, and this is his incentive to tell the readers alongside Warren his tale, cautionary one against the pursuit of knowledge, "When I reflect that you are pursuing the same course, exposing yourself to the same dangers which have rendered me what I am, I imagine that you may deduce an apt moral from my tale" (Shelly, 15). These events and themes are present in the 1994 film adaption as well, with minor variations. The faster paced nature of movies solicits a more dramatic and urgent encounter, but the basic ideas behind both tellings are faithful to one another, in a way that is uncommon in Frankenstein adaptions. Major plot points continue to roughly mirror each other with the creation of the creature, the creature's murders, and their repercussions.
Gothic Literature Enhanced Through Film
Frankenstein is one of the classic examples of Gothic literature, commonly used to study literary elements in education for its distinctive literary characteristics. Some of these elements of Gothic Literature, however, are clearly demonstrated not in the textual but in the thematic version of the story. One example is the use of weather to convey mood. Especially in the scenes on the boat, but also continued throughout the movie, weather is used as a tool to demonstrate suspense, anticipation, drama, sorrow, and even isolation. While these things are described in detail textually, "My voyage is only now delayed until the weather shall permit my my embarkation. The winter has been dreadfully severe, but the spring promises well" (Shelly, 7), their visual counterparts have a more dramatic and emotional effect on the viewers.
The nature of the two mediums naturally develop characters in different ways. The novel is epistolary, told in past tense through the remembered account of one of the characters. The result of this is characterization achieved directly, through statements of their character or another's, "[Frankenstein's father] was respected by all who knew him for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business" (Shelly, 17). Film, a visual, sensory medium utilizes more omniscient, observant tools of characterization. Instead of declarations of a happy childhood, huge houses, happy people, and extravagant parties are shown in detail that is not possible when a characters is reminiscing the story. Film techniques such as dialogue and costumes along with acting techniques like facial expression and body language are used to characterize. The characters become more outspoken and emotive, they have less lengthy inner contemplation, and the driving conflicts become more external, in order to create a comprehensive story without the written word.
Aspects of horror are prominent in both the film and novel, but in different ways and with different effects. The novel described situations, characters, and most of all, it conveyed emotions of fear, guilt, and anticipation which characterize it as a horror novel, "I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other" (Shelly, 135). Through the context of film, however, some horrifying aspects of the story come alive through the utilization of music and pacing. The viewer, as apposed to the reader, is consumed with individual moments and conflicts that are not as closely experienced in the novel, as it is told in a removed past tense. The effect of these tools the film uses is a story that draws upon emotions of fear and uncertainty not as prominent in a textual piece of fiction.