The Bride of Frankenstein ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

There was just no way I was going to settle for showing my niece Frankenstein without his Bride!

I was surprised how accepting my niece was of watching a black and white film. As recently as this summer, she was still resistant to leaving the world of color. One of my favorite subtopics when discussing these two movies is how they're a great microcosm for looking at the evolution of film in the span of a scant four years. Not only is Bride more dynamic, with more ambitious cinematography and livelier editing, but it features scored music. It's remarkable, how much more "modern" this film's aesthetics feel than its predecessor's.

I wish Universal's DVD menu didn't feature a still image of Elsa Lanchester in her Bride makeup, so that her reveal at the end of the film would have had greater impact. Unfortunately, there was no way to avoid that. I suppose in some respects it still worked because she instantly recognized the character design without knowing it originated with this film. It is, after all, truly iconic, paid homage to and outright parodied countless times throughout the last 80 years.

My niece was already sympathetic toward The Monster, and identified more strongly with him this time, despite his killings not being as easily defensible as in the first film. He kills here not strictly for self-protection, but out of sheer anger, after all. I suppose this can partly be attributed to her merely acclimating to the milieu of being a monster movie.

Our chief topic of conversation after the movie was over was about the matter of The Bride's agency. My niece initially seemed to accept The Monster's killing of her and himself (along with Dr. Pretorius) as lashing out over The Bride's unanticipated rejection. She was invested in him, after all, and wanted to see him rewarded with companionship. Besides, The Bride was supposed to have been programmed by Pretorius, she argued. His reaction was understandable.

But then I asked if it was fair for The Bride to be created simply to be his companion, and whether she should have the right to have - or not have - feelings all of her own. This led us into a brief sidebar about arranged marriages. My niece continued to sympathize with The Monster, but she also came to sympathize with The Bride; neither was given a fair shake by their creators or the world at large, and so they became for her what they've long been for all of us who love these two pictures: a tragic twosome whose doom reflects our own alienation.

It would be going too far - and would be too lazy - to say that I've just created a monster, but I sincerely hope that by introducing her to these films, particularly at this point in her adolescence, that I've found something new for us to share: the Universal Monsters.

Bride of Frankenstein Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#66/1704)

Bride of Frankenstein > A Christmas Carol (2009) → #66
Bride of Frankenstein > X-Men: First Class → #66
Bride of Frankenstein > Wristcutters: A Love Story → #66
Bride of Frankenstein > A Christmas Carol (1999) → #66
Bride of Frankenstein > Licence to Kill → #53
Bride of Frankenstein > Certified Copy → #27
Bride of Frankenstein < Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country → #27
Bride of Frankenstein < Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid → #27
Bride of Frankenstein < E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial → #27
Bride of Frankenstein > Glory → #12

Bride of Frankenstein was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #12/1704

Note: I didn't mean to pick Bride of Frankenstein over Glory, but because that was the last match, there was no way to undo it without re-ranking it entirely. After doing that, it settled at #16/1704, between From Russia with Love and Dumbo.