The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Cinephile Sunday: Exquisite Combinations

Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 3:00pm
Collins Cafe, Collins Cinema

In honor of the 200th anniversary of the conception of the classic novel Frankenstein, this semester's Cinéphile Sundays series includes films with some connection to author Mary Shelley. The theme, Exquisite Combinations, comes from a quote in the preface to Frankenstein, and is also a nod to the game Exquisite Corpse, in which various written or hand-drawn parts from different players who know only a fraction of what the others have done comes together to create a new composite reality. Exquisite Combinations explores the fear evoked when evil is manmade, as well as the opportunities and dangers of combining man and machine. 

The first film in this season’s Cinéphile Sundays series celebrates an elaboration on Shelley’s creative endeavor. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is the first sequel to the 1931 hit Frankenstein. It takes place immediately after the events of the first film, and is rooted in a subplot from the original story. In the story, Dr. Frankenstein has abandoned his plans to create life when his mentor, Dr. Pretorius, coerces him into constructing a mate for the monster. In the film, Elsa Lanchester plays the dual role of the Bride of Frankenstein and Mary Shelly, Colin Clive reprises his role as Dr. Frankenstein, and Ernest Thesiger plays Dr. Septimus Pretorius. Boris Karloff, acclaimed for his roles in horror films, stars in the role of Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster.

Aesthetically and historically, The Bride of Frankenstein has become one of the best-known horror films of all time, and is one of the few sequels in the history of film to have ever equaled or bested its predecessor. It has been critically acclaimed as director James Whale’s masterpiece, and recognized as an icon in the genre of classic horror. The film represents a formative moment in the production and design of classic horror films. The makeup artists at Universal Studios spent extra time on the design of both the monster characters, adding scars and injuries to Frankenstein’s monster. Most well known, though, is the Bride of Frankenstein’s conical hairstyle with white lightning-trace streaks on each side, which was originally based on Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

Four additional films follow the launch of the Exquisite Combinations series with The Bride of Frankenstein:

Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927), with a live soundtrack by Alloy Orchestra, February 28

Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006), March 13

El espíritu de la colmena (Victor Erice, 1973), April 10

Conceiving Ada (Lynn Hershman Leeson, 1997), May 1

Please refer to the Related Links at the top right of the page for more information on each film.


All films are free and open to the public. Cinéphile Sundays is generously supported by the Wilson Fund.