new
archives
comments
faq
links
contact
X
X
 

In the beginning, Mary Shelley created the Frankenstein Monster. And the Monster was without form, and darkness was upon its face. And James Whale said, "Let there be light!" And there was light.

Then appeared the one sent from the Creator to bring salvation. The one who would work miracles, and sacrifice himself on a cross to bring salvation. The chosen one! The King! The one known as... CHRIST FRANKENSTEIN.


SECRET ORIGINS OF FRANKENSTEIN - CHAPTER 11 OF 18
The GOSPEL ACCORDING TO FRANKENSTEIN
X
It's time for the centerpiece of our spectacular 18-issue series on the Secret Origins of Frankenstein Monster!

My friends, let us begin...

Controversy. The screenplays for the first two Frankenstein movies contained controversial scenes involving hypodermic needles, hunchback hangings, and little girl drownings. Censors forced the deletion of these scenes, but they missed the most daring and controversial theme of all -- a bold and subversive depiction of the Frankenstein Monster as Jesus Christ. Not as a Christ figure... but as Christ HIMSELF.

This special collector's issue of DIAL B for BLOG is going to reveal, for the first time ever, just how STRONG and NUMEROUS the parallels between Christ and the Monster (as depicted by director James Whale) really are!

We start at the very beginning. Christian themes dominate the opening of the first Frankenstein film, which depicts a Christian bur ial service in a graveyard populated with many giant crosses...
X
THIS IS MY BODY

The next scene shows Dr. Frankenstein and Fritz looking for new body parts to rob as a giant stone crucifix towers over them, symbolically rejecting their actions by "turning its back" on them. The cross, a source of spiritual life for believers, is juxtaposed with a life-size stone statue of the skull-faced Grim Reaper (lower left), bringer of death. Dr. Frankenstein stands between the two.
X
As he digs up the grave, Dr. Frankenstein make his intentions quite clear by literally throwing a shovel full of DIRT in the face of death...
X
GHOULS OF GOLGOTHA

In search of fresher bodies, the doctor and Fritz pass through a desolate area until they get to a recently-hanged man, who we see only from the rear. We can't see the noose around his neck, so it looks like a body suspended high on a pole -- a grim and bleak scene resembling the place Jesus was crucified, a hill called "Golgotha" ("Skull Hill"). Parts of this "crucified" body will become the Frankenstein Monster.
X
WE THREE KINGS

The birth of Christ was supposedly attended by three wise men. The birth of the Monster is also attended by three buy viagra online witnesses: Dr. Frankenstein's medical school professor, his friend Victor, and his fiancee Elizabeth. Frankenstein tells them he has discovered "the great ray which is the source of all life," and that he will now use this ray to give life to a body assembled from corpses.
X
VIRGIN BIRTH

According to one interpretation of the Gospels, Jesus was said to have been born of a virgin woman. The Monster, conversely, is born of a virgin MAN, namely Dr. Frankenstein, who is a virgin in sense that he is the only "parent" involved in the Monster's birth.
X
"In the name of God, now I know
what it feels like to BE God."
X
Blasphemy! The same "crime" Jesus was accused of, and for the same reason...
X
Also in John's Gospel, Jesus says "I am the light of the world." According to Dr. Frankenstein, the Monster was reanimated by "the great ray which is the source of all life." One of the very first things the Monster does after being given life is to reach toward the heavens, attempting to embrace the light flooding the room from an opening in the castle ceiling, as shown below in an enhanced image from the film.
X
The "Monster as Christ" theme is emphasized even more heavily in Bride of Frankenstein, which introduces a new character -- Dr. Septimus Pretorious. In the 21-second clip below, Pretorious makes a highly unusual proposal to Dr. Frankenstein, and then offers a Biblical justification for it. GET THOU TO CLICKING.
X
The "Bible story" Pretorious refers to permeates Bride of Frankenstein, which is overflowing with crosses and symbolic references to Jesus. The sequel begins where the first movie ended, with the fiery destruction of a windmill, and the Monster trapped inside. Wreckage from the structure forms a gigantic burning cross, which towers above the scene...
X
Following his "death" during this blazing crucifixion, the scene shifts underground, to a tomb-like setting...
X
...from which the Monster rises again, resurrected.
X
Escaping into the countryside, the Monster comes upon a girl who has fallen into the river. In the previous film, he had thrown a girl into the water. As these panels from the Classics Illustrated adaptation of the story show, this was the exact OPPOSITE of what had happened in the book, where the Monster sees a drowning girl, and...
X
As portrayed in Bride, the Monster selflessly leaps in and rescues the girl!
X
But as he does, we see shots of a nearby lamb, a foreshadowing of the fate that will befall the Monster and the Christ. They will both become sacrificial lambs...
X
Things start to go badly when the girl wakes up...
X
The Monster's physical appearance terrifies the girl. Her screams draw a pair of nearby hunters, who scare the Monster back into the woods. Reader, if you're looking for someone to star in your next nightmare, I have the perfect candidate in mind...
X
As the Monster runs back into the woods, the hunters quickly assemble a mob to hunt him down. This begins a hauntingly familiar sequence of events...
X
X
As the Frankensteinian "Passion Play" begins, the town Burgomaster shows up. Played by E.E. Clive, this village leader is seen below with Boris Karloff in a promotional photo. The Burgomaster assumes the role of Pontius Pilate (or Caiaphas, if you like, or both), presiding over the first of several scenes based on the Medieval Stations of the Cross...
X
STATION 1: JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH

In a summary judgment, the Burgomaster condemns the Monster and directs the mob of villagers to tie him up quickly, shouting, "We can't take all day on this!"
X
STATION 2: JESUS IS GIVEN HIS CROSS

Following the Burgomaster's orders, villagers rush the Monster, overpower him, and tie him to a gigantic pole -- in essence, a cross. In a reversal of the Gospel accounts, where Christ a nd his cross go UP a hill to crucifixion, the Monster and his "cross" go DOWN a hill to crucifixion. We're going to skip ahead to the final Stations now...
X
X
THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST FRANKENSTEIN

All subtlety is thrown to the wind as Christ Frankenstein is overpowered by angry villagers, tied to a pole, and subjected to a horrific mock crucifixion, as seen below on a colorized poster where the skull border unintentionally reflects the name of the place Jesus was crucified, "Skull Hill" (or Golgotha).

The "Crucifixion of Frankenstein" scene reveals director James Whale at his boldest and most outrageous -- a blatant portrayal of a walking collection of cadavers as Jesus Christ on the cross! Surprisingly, this theme escaped the censors notice completely, and this highly-provocative scene made it into the film's final cut, intact. You'd like to see the scene now, wouldn't you?
X
OK, here it is -- with a warning: Even today, three quarters of a century after it was filmed, the Monster's mock crucifixion remains quite shocking, unsettling, and even brutal. See it for yourself by watching the 90-second clip below. LET IT BE CLICKED, AND CLICKED NOW!
X
STATION 11: JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS

After Jesus was crucified, his body was place in a tomb. After the Monster is crucified, he, too, is placed in an underground tomb, where he is chained into a gigantic chair. But strangely, events seem to be occurring backwards as we see the nailing of Christ Frankenstein to the "cross" -- AFTER he has been crucified.

Whale could have just put the Monster in a cell and closed the door. Instead, the Monster is secured in an elaborate throne-like chair with chains which are anchored in place with a gigantic hammer. Why not just chain him up with locks? There was no real need to hammer anything. So why was this done? There must be a reason -- and there is. The shot was made because it is meant to evoke the hammering of nails into the hands and feet of Jesus when he was crucified...
X
The Monster grimaces in agony with each blow of the hammer. But why was the "nailing" scene placed AFTER the "crucifixion" scene? James Whale seems to be inverting the Gospel accounts, and not just chronologically.
X
STATION 12: JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS

Jesus was crucified in an upright position; the Monster is crucified sitting down. After the crucifixion of Christ, his body was sealed in a tomb. Similarly, the Monster is now securely chained in a tomb-like jail cell, arms outstretched, in a state simulating death.
X
THREE DAYS, THREE SECONDS

Jesus was said to have risen again after three days. The Monster waits about three seconds. After all, this is a movie, and there's no time to lose! He suddenly tears through his chains as if they were made of paper.

It seems the trials of crucifixion and entombment have only made him stronger. Again emulating the Christ of the Gospels. "The tyrant dies and his rule ends; the martyr dies and his rule begins." --Soren Kierkegaard

Jesus was said to have worked miracles before he was crucified. As the inversions continue, the Monster will now work a miracle AFTER he has been symbolically "crucified."
X
X
HEALING THE BLIND MAN

After breaking out of jail, the Monster escapes into the woods, leading to his famous encounter with a blind man (played by O.P. Heggie), a hermit living alone in a secluded shack deep in the woods. The scene is filled to the bursting point with Christian symbolism.

Attracted by the hermit's violin music, the religious hymn "Ave Maria" (more on that later), the Monster enters the hermit's shack. Being blind, the hermit cannot judge anyone based on their appearance (unlike the hateful villagers, who represent society). And so the blind man isn't horrified by the Monster, he's eternally thankful to have a friend at last.

This oddest of odd couples chats a bit -- the first time we hear the Monster speak, much to Karloff's displeasure -- then the blind man puts the Monster to bed and makes an emotional prayer of thanks to "the Father" (God).

The blind hermit, who has lived in darkness, verges on joyful hysteria as he thanks God for sending him a friend who will be "a LIGHT unto him." As mentioned previously, Jesus was sometimes called "the light of the world."

Then, in one of the most touching scenes in the history of film, the Monster, wretched brute that he is, is so deeply moved by the blind man's plight that he actually sheds a tear (left cheek), a majestic movie moment of superhuman nobility which can be compared to Jesus on the cross praying for God to forgive those who were crucifying him.
X
Just as Jesus was said to have restored sight to the blind, Frankenstein restores "sight" (friendship/ light/ love) to the blind man. Jesus suffered on the cross because he believed his suffering would atone for the sins of the world, thus purchasing salvation for humanity. Similarly, the sufferings of the Monster led him to the blind man, bringing him the salvation of love. Next, in a heartbreaking gesture, the Monster cradles the hermit's back in sympathy, as seen below in Ani-Motion...
X
HAIL MARY

While all this happens, the soundtrack plays "Ave Maria," an ancient Catholic prayer which asks for the help of Mary, mother of Jesus. The prayer, also known as "Hail Mary," incorporates passages from The Gospel According to Luke. The musical version of the prayer, heard in this scene, was composed by Franz Schubert.

The scene slowly fades out -- but as it does, the crucifix on the wall remains lit. The rest of the room is slowly enveloped in black, but the crucifix remains lit for a lingering moment, courtesy of film editor Ted Kent.

The prayer... the illuminated crucifix... the imagery... the music... the whole 46-second clip. To me, it's like a neon sign screaming "FRANKENSTEIN IS CHRIST!" Let thou be the judge thine own self...
X
X
THE LAST SUPPER

Jesus and his disciples shared bread and wine on the night BEFORE Jesus was crucified. The blind hermit and the Monster share a "last supper" of bread and wine the day AFTER the Monster was "crucified." If James Whale had wanted to, he could have easily placed this scene before the mock crucifixion. Instead, it was placed after. Another inversion.
X
EMBRACING CHRIST ON THE CROSS

Whale had to submit the screenplays for both Frankenstein films to a censorship board. In Bride, the scene after the Monster's encounter with the blind man is followed by the Monster fleeing to a cemetery to avoid angry villagers.

Originally, the Monster was supposed to have seen a giant crucifix, and, mistaking it for a real person in agony, he was to "rescue" Jesus from the cross, in the process embracing him, as every Christian must to do.

BELOW: Here's how a storyboard depicted the original scene...
X
Outrageous! The censors demanded that this scene be deleted! Immediately! So James Whale DID delete it -- and substituted a scene that could be considered far MORE blasphemous. The figure of Christ is still in the shot, in the background, and instead of embracing Jesus, the Monster encounters a statue of a Catholic Bishop...
X
...and angrily topples it over, as Christ crucified, the ultimate Iconoclast, watches.
X
...then the Monster lumbers away to hide in an underground tomb. As he passes Christ, we can see that despite the original scene being censored, James Whale managed to sneak in the shot he wanted anyway, with THIS visual, which suggests the Monster embracing Christ...
X
THE GARDEN TOMB

The Monster hides in a tomb, in the graveyard that some of his body parts were taken from -- his birthplace, in a sense. Notice that the wall displays a CROSS, which casts its long shadow above the Monster's head.
X

CONCLUSION: THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST

Why did James Whale turn the Frankenstein Monster into Christ? Well, if one wants to create an iconic King of Monsters, one makes a character who is the opposite of the "King of Kings." One INVERTS his entire story. This is what James Whale did. His Monster is born of a virgin man, is crucified sitting down, then has his last supper, then works salvific miracles.

Why take this approach? Because the Monster's very EXISTENCE represents the ultimate inversion of Christ, who was crucified, then rose from the dead, then became humanity's salvation. Conversely, the Monster rose from the dead first, then was crucified, then became a symbol -- not of salvation, but of condemnation. In Whale's interpretation, the Monster is not the anti-Christ; he is more like Bizarro Christ.

This is the secret identity of the Frankenstein Monster as depicted by James Whale: He is the Christ dressed in black. And the messages of the "Gospel According to Frankenstein" and the Biblical Gospel are simply two sides of the same ancient coin: "Hate destroys; love saves."

This is Robby Reed, author of this article and creator of this blog, saying AMEN, Monster lover! This concludes our sermon. Now go ye, and sin no more!

X
X
X
next