Released overseas last year and releasing on DVD and Blu-ray next month, Paul McGuigan‘s Victor Frankenstein is nothing if not an unconventional take on the material.
McGuigan’s remix of the horror classic sees a young Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) rescue Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) from the circus in pursuit of an assistant to aid him in his attempts to find a cure for death. As an adaptation, it owes as much to previous attempts as it does the original novel.
According to Paul, “It’s taking the core themes of the book – the re-birthing idea, bringing the dead back to life and the science of that and the moral issues it brings up”.
Though imagery like the castle, the lightning and the monster cement the film to its legacy, Paul says they also tried to shy away the overwrought melodrama of the Mary Shelley’s novel.
“What Max Landis has done with his original script is cherry pick the best bits from the book and the best bits from the movies of the past so it’s a bit of art imitating art and reinventing it a little bit. I’ve always found that the movies have always been a bit melodramatic and so we have been trying to make this much more energetic, more of a character piece.”
The chemistry between Igor and Victor was central to this, and Paul’s approach to the characters one informed by his previous work on Sherlock.
He says “it’s a bit like when I did Sherlock. I always knew that if we kept (Sherlock Holmes’) apartment then we could be in any decade. I always knew that if we kept the Victorian apartment with two chairs and the fire you could just do what you want rather than putting them in a penthouse apartment with flat screen TVs and stuff.”
“People liked the idea that we were tipping our hat to what was familiar and we have done the same with this.”
Though iconic, Igor is a part of the Frankenstein mythology that belongs entirely to the cinema. The evolution of Daniel Radcliffe’s Igor from throwaway character to Frankenstein’s equal is a big part of the themes in the film.
“There are a lot of good metaphors in the characters and lots of good metaphors in the situation and basically Igor kind of gives Victor his soul back at the end of it all. So it’s a much more equal partnership.”
It was important to Paul that “no matter how dynamic and cinematic the scenes may look they have to have a heart to them, they have to have a soul to them and they have to make sense rather than just a spectacle.”
Victor Frankenstein releases on DVD and Blu-ray on May 25th. Digital copies are available on Google Play and iTunes now.