When reading Frankenstein, I couldn’t help but notice it strikes similarity to another classic 1980’s action movie, Robocop, starring Peter Weller. This movie is…well…about a robot cop, but is much more complicated about that. More specifically, it is about a cop that gets in an accident and to bring him back he is the test subject of a new technology program which turns him into basically a crime fighting android. For the younger audience out there, it is a grown up, darker version of the iconic Inspector Gadget character. In the movie, the program responsible for the construction of Robocop is responsible for many police officers going on strike since robotic cops would put them out of work. From this point on in the movie,the parallels between the Creature and Robocop become similar.
Much like the Creature, Robocop is a creation that struggles finding its own identity in the world. The Creature upon learning about his appearance and origins doesn’t quite know how he fits in to the world, besides the fact that he is an outcast, because he is the first of his kind. Robocop, having a machine body and a programmed human head, struggles between his programming and his own human memories. This identity crisis between crime fighting robot and the man behind the machine is what propels the plot line, making it more than just an action film. The Creature and Robocop both have moments where they see their true selves, they see their own reflections. However, Robocop is able to accomplish something the Creature simply couldn’t, destroy his creator. This movie , much like The Terminator, shows society’s fear of the potential of the progress being made in computers and robots in the late 1980’s. It is also worth noting that this movie is being remade, and the new Robocop is coming out next month in February. It stars Joel Kinnaman as Robocop and it also features Michael Keaton and one of my favorite actors, Samuel L. Jackson. I will be sure to post a movie review upon seeing it, but already I have one concern that I can’t shake off. Why does the new Robocop have human hands? Doesn’t that kind of take away from the robotic aspect of him when he faces enemies causing them to just shoot his hands? I don’t know if that will be an issue but it was just a thought.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not only a classic novel, but it has become the basis of a variety of movie genres, from horror to science fiction. The story of Frankenstein, a scientist who aspires to create life and when he does his creation fumbles out of his own control, has been referenced to and remixed in works of literature, movies, and popular culture. At the time of Mary Shelley, science was about to reach another revolution as the potentials of science weren’t quite realized to a majority of people. It was apparent though that science could intrude upon the beliefs of religion and ethics. Mary Shelley uses the idea of ethics and of the unknown potential of science to fuel the true horror evoked by Frankenstein.
The story of how this novel has gotten to the level of popularity it reaches today starts with the novel itself. The book at first got mixed reviews but over time it gained a following. At the turn of the century, the first film adaptation of it was made by Edison Studios in 1910 as a Silent short film. However, this would not get the reception that the Universal Studios’ version staring Boris Karloff would receive in the 1931 version. This movie solidified and introduced the horror genre to popular culture, while also setting up a kind of archetype for horror movies at the time. The idea of man playing God and the consequences that follow captivated the minds of audiences everywhere. This and the rest of the Frankenstein movies by Universal built upon this idea. These movies helped to build the idea of the mad scientist in the laboratory whose own creation spins out of his own control. Actually, Frankenstein brought the idea of one’s own creation being more than what the creator could handle, which has been an important staple in the science fiction world.
The ideas presented above have influenced a variety of famous movies, from action to science fiction. For example, The Terminator franchise builds upon the idea that man won’t be able to control its own advancements when it comes to robotics and computers. The idea that machines will rise against man creating a skull filled post-apocalyptic world terrified audiences upon being released since at the time in the 1980’s advancements were being made in computers. In Jurassic Park, man tries to play God again by bringing back dinosaurs through modern genetics in order to create an amusement park. In the words of Jeff Goldblum, “Uh…uh…Life finds a way.” Yes, yes it does, as then the dinosaurs escape and terrorize the island. Once again, playing on the potential fears of the time, as in the 1990’s advancements in genetics and cloning brought new scientific ethics to the field. These classic movies, just like in the times of Mary Shelley, is a response to potential fears at the time.