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Bride of Frankenstein [Blu-ray] [Import anglais]
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Le monstre crée par le docteur FRANKENSTEIN a échappé aux flammes qui dévoraient le vieux moulin. Rencontré dans un cimetière, le docteur PRETORIUS vient proposer à FRANKENSTEIN ses lumières en matière de création de vie. PRETORIUS la convaint de créer une compagne à son monstre. L'opération réussit : la fiancée est née. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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It's a real pity, then, that this rich cinematic treasure has received such a disappointing transfer to the DVD format. After experiencing the sharply focused, pristine prints presented on Universal's DVD releases of "Frankenstein" and "The Mummy", my expectations for "Bride" were enthusiastically high. What a letdown! The film is grainy, with distractingly poor contrast -- the actors appear to have microcrobes running across their faces, like amoeba that you might observe under a microscope. And there were a couple of pops and jumps inherent in the source material that I don't recall having seen on the VHS tape release of this film.
The extras are the only features that keep this disc from being a complete fiasco. The poster and still archive is remarkable, and the "making of" featurette is informative and enjoyable. The theatrical trailer is the one used for the film's Realart re-release and not the Universal original. I strongly suspect (and hope) there will some day be a "restored" edition of this movie available. Unless you just can't wait to add this title to your DVD collection, I have to regretfully advise that until such an improved version comes along, you spend your hard-earned pennies on an alternate selection.
The worst thing about it is the horrible grainy look of the film. There are so many tiny little black dots on the picture that it is almost impossible to concentrate on the actors. It is a terrible looking picture. And somehow or other they have managed to mess up the framing of the picture even though it is a 1.33:1 image. You only get to see about 85% of the picture compared to the VHS. Universal....how could you?
The extras on the DVD are quite good but it's the movie that counts! Other titles in the series of classic Universal horror movies are better but none of them so far are what true DVD enthusiasts and real movie fans want to see. I really hope that Universal quickly decides to remaster The Bride of Frankenstein DVD and then allows us poor souls to exchange our current copies for a new one.
Most of the principal cast members of the original Frankenstein movie reprise their roles here, including Colin Clive as Frankenstein and the inimitable Boris Karloff as the monster. Mae Clarke, however, was unavailable for health reasons, and a seventeen-year-old Valerie Hobson took on the role of Elizabeth, Frankenstein's fiancée. This is a noticeable change, as Hobson played Elizabeth in a strikingly different manner. As you may have guessed, Frankenstein's monster did not actually die in the big fire that ended the first motion picture. The windmill was built over a cistern (more like a great big underground pond, if you ask me), and the monster escapes the conflagration, not before killing a couple of people and scaring Minnie, this film's version of interminable comic relief, half to death. Dr. Frankenstein, for his part, also survives (although we already knew this thanks to the last-minute concluding scene of the first movie). He regrets his foolish attempts to play God, even though he still speaks with a mad zeal about the dreams he pursued so dangerously. Enter Dr. Praetorius (Ernest Thesiger), a former professor of Frankenstein's and the kind of evil genius our reformed young doctor should have become. Praetorius has been doing his own God-like experiments and now seeks to join his knowledge with that of Frankenstein to make not a man, but a woman. In the film's only borderline ridiculous moments, we see the products of Praetorius' work - the film work and special effects are brilliantly done, but the whole idea is just laughably silly. Still, you can't help liking old Praetorius because he is everything a mad scientist should be. Frankenstein has now become - well, (...) a cowardly man who seems incapable of acting on his own accord. Luckily, Dr. Praetorius knows how to deal with a man such as Frankenstein, and he eventually succeeds in getting the good doctor back in the lab for one final experiment.
As for Frankenstein's monster, we finally get to see the humanity of the character emerge. Seeking friendship, he is met only with fear, screams, and malice. He does manage to find a friend in the countryside, however - the sound of violin music takes him to the home of a blind hermit. In one of the most touching scenes in cinema history, the blind man takes the monster in, thanks God for finally sending him a friend to assuage his loneliness, and shines the full light of humanity, all too briefly, on the lonely creature. Naturally, this time of happiness does not last long, but the monster does develop the ability to speak before he is separated forever from his friend. He ends up crossing paths with Dr. Praetorius, who quickly sells him on the idea of a mate, setting the stage for another pyrotechnic creation scene that gives us the unforgettable Bride of Frankenstein.
The cinematography, musical score, and basically everything else are well-nigh perfect in this film; despite the ridiculous editing demands of the censors, Bride of Frankenstein achieves the pinnacle of monster movie success. Still, it bothers me that these films have defined Frankenstein's monster as a creature much different than the literary monster of Mary Shelley's creation. The first film completely stood Shelley's story on its head, missing the point entirely. How ironic it is for Bride of Frankenstein to feature a prologue featuring the character of Mary Shelley herself, in company with her companion Percy Bysse Shelley and the flamboyant Lord Byron, explaining the meaning of her work and then introducing yet another bastardization of the real Mary Shelley's literary masterpiece. The original monster, as envisioned by Shelley, was not the creature at all; it was Dr. Frankenstein, not so much because he played God but because he abandoned his monstrous creation and left him alone to fend for himself. Bride of Frankenstein rights some of this wrong by showing the depth of humanity in the monster, but it cannot undo the wrongs already done the character. In the context of the cinema, he will forever be a "monster," a shadow of his true literary self, forced to suffer at the hands of man while the true villain of the story fails to even attempt to redeem himself or to suffer the harsh yet noble fate that he so rightfully earned in Shelley's original story.
This true sequel to director James Whale's 1931 masterpiece is considered by most critics to be even superior. Certainly from a production standpoint, it is hard to argue against it. This movie actually continues the story originated by Mary Shelley in 1816. In fact, like "Frankenstein," the movie opens with Mary (Elsa Lanchester), Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) and Percy Shelley (Douglas Walton) once again in flashback, discussing Mary's horror novel during a thunderstorm. This was a scene Whale insisted on recreating.
Back to the present day, the story picks up where "Frankenstein" left off. The monster is trapped inside a burning windmill and Dr. Frankenstein is near death after being thrown off by the monster. He recovers, but is forced to help a strange former teacher, Dr. Pretorius (fey Ernest Thesiger). Pretorius had his own success with creating life. Whale and screenwriter William Hurlbut struggled with censors as the film hints at homosexuality, necrophilia and has numerous religious connotations.
Boris Karloff returns as the monster and once again is terrific, this time more sympathetic in spite of the fact he kills more people than he did in his first outing. Both he and Colin Clive, once again Henry Frankenstein, were injured before and during the movie causing additional complications for Whale. A 17 year old British actress, Valerie Hobson replaces Mae Clarke as Elizabeth, Henry's fiancée. She has a couple meaty scenes and pulls them off nicely.
As a kid I mostly remembered Pretorius's little people which he created and housed in jars. A lightened moment in what was still a frightening film. The best scenes however are given to Lanchester who also portrays the "Bride" complete with herky-jerky head movements and the now iconic lightning bolt hairdo. Pretorius also utters a couple quips that become important to the future. When the lady monster comes alive, he calls her the Bride of Frankenstein not the Bride of the Monster. Is that how the monster became known by many as "Frankenstein?" He also announces the successful reanimation declaring "gods and monsters," the name of a 1998 biopic about James Whale.
The movie is enhanced by some excellent photography (Stephen M. Katz), makeup (Jack Pierce returning), special effects (John P. Fulton) and an amazing musical score by Franz Waxman. Note how each main character has his/her own musical announcement. This is one of the great horror movies. Make that one of the great movies of all time.
The Blu ray disc comes in a 1080p resolution and has a near original 1.35:1 aspect ratio. This black and white film is certainly one of the best of the Universal restorations. Some have rightly complained about some earlier DVD quality issues. I can assure you they have been cleaned up here. The transfer quality is consistently excellent throughout with beautiful detail. Many of the aforementioned little people provide some interesting elements I had never seen before. There are no scratches, light fading or any other abnormalities that I could see. The audio comes by way of DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (2-channel) and is likewise excellent. Waxman's score is perfectly replicated given the age and source. The dialog is crisp and clear. There is little if any noise in any of the scenes.
The only extra worth a look is 39 minute documentary called "She's Alive!: Creating the Bride of Frankenstein." There is a numb audio commentary by a historian, some archival photos, trailers and a Universal commercial that appears on all of the discs in this collection.