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Sep. 21st, 2012

Перевод давешнего сравнения двух кино-версий Франкенштейна.

*****

I'd promised to write down my impressions about Frankenstein, but it turned out to be easier said than done. The first draft I've had to re-write completely.

The very good news is, a representative of the organizers took the stage before the would-be last screening on the 31 of August and told us that due to the unexpected (from her words, it was especially surprising for the British side) popularity of the event the allowed time for it to be shown here was extended until the end of October, moreover she also said they were considering screening 5 more National Theatre plays, without telling which ones. Another two Frankenstein screenings have already taken place the first week of September. Having been away all last week, I do not know what happened since.

For some reason, I am having to really force myself to translate my impressions, and it was nearly equally tough to write this mush-ey stuff. Therefore, I am bound to have made more mistakes than usual.

The poster turned out to be straightforward: Frankenstein played by the actor. And the Creature played by the other actor, accordingly.

Unexpectedly, I liked Johnny Lee Miller (JLM) more after the two screenings than I did Benedict Cumberbatch (BC), and especially as the Creature (first screening). It was rather unfortunate then that the second version (him as Frankenstein) had to be filmed on the day he was so hoarse (if he does not speak that way always, which I seriously doubt). I could not quite appreciate him as Frankenstein then (if it was not caused simply by actors exchanging roles).

JLM was much more natural as the Creature, especially in the 'birth' scene. He really took me in making me believe that It unexpectedly came to life, with a supertension in all muscles, utterly disoriented, not understanding a whit of what why how where, then the at once slow and quick process of (remembering?) learning how to move, and stand, running around in circles, and walking as if drunk, and finally the exhausted slump near the birthing bubble. I loved it how he shows that what Frankenstein created is not at all perfect, with the higher than normal muscle tone in one leg and half-paralyzed ligaments in one wrist, not to mention the slack saliva-dripping jaw (the overall quite disgusting spectacle that makes you admire how the actor can do all this physically all throw the play... and act on top of it), and also the lisp that does not quite disappear.

Crazy thought after the first scene, "He's in impressive form!" (JLM).

BC is good in the same scene as Frankenstein. He is very believably shocked that It has somehow burst the birthing bubble, and the attempt to turn It onto its back is exactly how I would have acted in his place.


For comparison, it is a pity that the views and their closeness are chosen so as to show the best there is in each version. Personally, I would have preferred them the same, since had I been able to see the plays on stage I would have made absolutely certain to sit in the same place. So, it is difficult to compare what is happening, the close views differ too much, besides, for more than half of the second screening I could not 'get into' it, but kept comparing it with the first one (JLM as the Creature) that I liked best, and as a result... did not notice many of the little details that should be useful to see the similarities and differences between the versions.

BC as the Creature did not seem very consistent to me. His jerky movements remind more a man slightly 'out of this world' than the result of the rough combining of the body parts of different people. Spoilt by JLM, I also did not like that his Creature ends up speaking normally without the lisp. Yes, I believed that It managed to learn how to do so, how to control its body like that, but no, I did not like It just starting to speak almost normally, for a small something emphasizing this monumental achievement seemed to be missing.

JLM as Frankenstein I did not get in this scene: they filmed him from too far, and I could not discern his reaction to the fallen Creature, or how he touches it, or what he does realizing that It is now alive.

The first meal of grass, the joy of rain, and the sun, and everything, I liked JLM more (but his is the first version I've seen, and I would not go see another version of either Seminar or John Gabriel Borkman even now, months and more and a year after seeing the with Rickman. And it is not only about teh man, but about all the actors and their interaction, the atmosphere as a whole. I have, in fact, only just managed to stop spluttering when reading the Russian transliteration of his name, "John" which is closer to the Norwegian you-n).

The studies with the old blind man, though, are very touching with both, but even here JLM is... somehow more defenceless against the thoughtless cruelty of the young couple, and naughtier in his playing with snow when told to sit quietly on the bench.

I think this is why I liked JLM's Creature more, It is more human with him, and suffers more from the hurt and disappointment and the growing anger and hate.

And for the same, if inverse reason, BC's Frankenstein is better, like a mad scientists that is only interested in the workings of his on brain, living right up there and not noticing the leaving breathing people, and "creatures", around him, which hits you full force when the Creature meets It's creator after having killed William. You see how shaken Frankenstein is with his brother's murder, but at once he is devouring the Creature with his eyes, seemingly having forgotten what It has just done, only interested in how It, always IT for him, is alive and ticking.

And yet and yet (if, once again, this is not the work of the different angle they filmed from), the very last scene where the Creature reaches for the revived by the wine Frankenstein (full circle?), still reaches, and still hopes for something, it is so much more touching with BC's Creature.


To conclude, I now very much want to see JLM live on stage... and maybe BC as well.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
captivebird
Sep. 22nd, 2012 10:03 am (UTC)
There is a lot to like about both versions. I too saw JLM as the Creature first, and if I had never seen another version I would have been perfectly happy. I had sympathy with JLM as the Creature. I loved BC looking handsome as Victor. But then I saw BC as the Creature. And I appreciated the absolute effort he put in to distort almost every muscle of his body throughout. It was not a pretty performance, but it was extraordinarily physical. I guess the joy was to be able to see both interpretations. You may be sure that I am looking out for any chance to see either of these men on the stage again, but both have too many film commitments at the moment – not least the fact that they are both being different versions of Sherlock Holmes for television. :-)

I hope that you do get the chance to see more of our National Theatre plays via the NT Live screening system. Keep an eye on their website for information: http://microsites.nationaltheatre.org.uk/45462/home/national-theatre-live-homepage.html I'm very pleased to see that Russia/Moscow is now included on their European venue map. :-)
kehlen_crow
Sep. 22nd, 2012 10:34 am (UTC)
I very much regretted not being able to see the both of them on different nights, because no two performances are the same, especially in the case of the second version. But alas, we have to make do with what is available :-).

I am very glad to see our venues on that site also :-). Thank you for giving me the link, I look forward to other plays maybe also being screen here.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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