Published on July 4th, 2016 | by Chris O'Connor
The Frankenstein Chronicles DVD Review
Summary: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein's, Frankenstein.
Even if you have never read it you have no doubt heard about Frankenstein… or as it is sometimes referred to “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus”. I managed to get a copy of the book a few years ago and read it (partly because I as going through a stage of reading the “classics” and also because I wanted to go to the source of the story). Aside from finding that most re-tellings of the tale (perhaps unsurprisingly) add their own take to the story… I found the main character Frankenstein’s monster quite a sad one. So when the chance to review The Frankenstein Chronicles came up I jumped at the chance.
The blurb… or catch line for the show is that it is set in Georgian England and exists in the same world as the novel but is kind of a detective show and indeed it is. The first episode sees Sean Bean’s character Inspector John Marlott as part of the river police, discover a body that has washed ashore. As Marlott leans down to investigate the corpse he notices that it isn’t so much one person as it is a number of pieces of people stitched together to form one whole… as he is examining the hand, it seems to grab at him. But did it just grab at him? Was it simply an involuntary action caused by some strange events, was it his imagination?
At the same time that this body is found, the Anatomy Act is set to be put into law. Fearing that this body may be an attempt to stop the act passing Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel tasks Marlott with finding out who is responsible for the body and to do so “discreetly”. Thus the investigation begins and the mystery grows darker and deeper.
The visual style and appeal of The Frankenstein Chronicles is strong in no small part due to the use of actual locations… the filming was principally done in Ireland and due to the nature of the history of the country… the buildings are very authentic. The costuming is just as superb and really brings the whole world to life.
Speaking of the world in which this story exists… it is very meta. Mary Shelley herself is a character along with the aforementioned Sir Robert Peel. Those familiar with the paranormal and or the Occult will also recognize the name William Blake who features as quite an important character in this first season (otherwise you may be familiar with his work “Tyger! burning bright. In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye. Dare frame thy fearful symmetry“). Charles Dickens even sews his presence into the story as a reporter going by the name Boz (apparently one of his aliases)
The mixing of real and fictional stories is quite appropriate for the series as the original novel Frankenstein was no doubt influenced by Galvanism (as mentioned in the show). Galvanism was a new field of study at the time of the writing of the novel. Luigi Galvani found that frog’s legs twitched as if alive when struck by a spark of electricity… but his nephew Giovanni Aldini took it further with George Forster. Forster was convicted of murdering his wife and child and was subsequently hanged. Due to the “Murder Act” of 1752 his body was made available to Aldini and upon having electrical current passed through his body, onlookers reported “his eye opened, his right hand was raised and clenched and his legs moved.”
So with that background and history as a launching point… I am really looking forward to where this series will go and thankfully series 2 has been picked up… now I have to wait! :(
Director – Benjamin Ross
Actors – Sean Bean, Richie Campbell, Vanessa Kirby, Eloise Smyth, Elliot Cowan, Tom Ward, Ryan Sampson
Film Genre – TV Horror
Label – 20th Century Fox
Audio – English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles – English
Running Time – 322
Aspect Ratio – 1.78:1
Region Coding – 4
TV Standard – PAL
Rating – MA15+
Year of Release – 2015
Primary Format – Movies/TV – DVD