Frankenstein (2011)
May 4, 2020 1:32 AM - Subscribe

The UK National Theatre's 2011 production of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternating the roles of the Creature and Victor Frankenstein. On YouTube (both versions) this week as part of the NT Live project.

Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature, Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein

Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature, Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein

Available until 7th May.

Content warning: although the filmed version was adjusted and edited as compared with the live production, it still features a strongly-implied rape.
posted by Major Clanger (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This was so good. I saw both when they were first shown in theaters, then one again this past weekend, and I'll watch the other this week. I wish they were leaving them available a little longer - I'd like a few more days between the two, but I don't want to miss my chance of seeing the other one again. What a breathtaking production.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:47 AM on May 4, 2020

I watched the Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature, and crucial scenes of the reverse. Benedict as the Doctor is a bit hand-in-glove, perhaps too much so. The weakest aspect of the show is the speeches about scientist as God, which I assume come directly from the novel. They go on and on and feel like self-parody at this point, like something Benedict Cumberbatch would be overacting on stage — and there you are.

The early rendering of the Creature as a forlorn organism, more baby than monster, were really compelling and strange — a bit David Lynch. Seeing a character go from barely-human to sentient was moving. The dedication of both actors to the part was absolute — nothing was held back. Cumberbatch's Creature was perhaps stranger, with more caterwauls and physical ad libs. It's acting of a type you rarely see. The second half of the play felt like acting you see a lot; I grew tired of it.

Perhaps because of the star power, this was the most cinematically filmed of all the National Theatre productions, with bird's-eye views and crane shots and so forth. I didn't like that. I have so valued the sense of being there so far. I've watched every one since One Man Two Guvnors and have absolutely treasured our family's night at the theatre. (Jane Eyre was particularly amazing, storytelling out of nothing — a magic trick.) Being taken out of the sense of being at the theatre is unwelcome.

Still. Don't miss it. The National Theatre is a human landmark. Believing it will return — and I'll go someday — is one of the small things keeping me going.
posted by argybarg at 8:28 AM on May 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I just watched this (with benedict as the creature).

I agree with argybarg about all the crane shots being annoying and taking me out of the moment. I don't agree that I felt the second half was less engaging the first. I found it all totally engrossing.

I'm going to watch it again with the casting reversed tomorrow.

And yes the speeches come from the novel. There were a lot of changes to the novel actually, but they kept the philosophical debates in shortened form.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:23 PM on May 4, 2020

Watched it this week and liked the acting and directing but felt like the writing was a little weak. Some of the lines were pretty clunky and yes the speeches could get annoying. As usual, Victor a whiny and annoying but that's Shelly's fault; I swear he spent half the novel complaining "oh, the shame I have brought on the great name of Frankenstein".
posted by octothorpe at 5:46 AM on May 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

So great to hear the creature speak, as he does in the book and in the 1973 film version with Michael Sarrazin (otherwise a dull go). I watched the version with Miller as Frankenstein and was blown away by his physical commitment to the role. And how nice to have the ideas underpinning the book given such prominence. I'm glad I caught this.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:06 PM on May 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

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