In Kenneth Branagh’s movie version of Frankenstein, Branagh tries to create an atmosphere of horror and suspense. I am going to try and discover how Branagh creates the atmosphere of horror and suspense in the wedding night scene. I will do this by analysing four to six scenes or sequences by focusing on what the audience sees and hears. The first scene I chose to analyse was the scene when, straight after the wedding, Elizabeth and Victor are in bed kissing. The lighting is soft and romantic. After a short while, the sound a recorder being played is heard. The monster played the recorder to let Victor know that he was there like he had said.
Both Victor and the audience realise that the monster played the recorder but Elizabeth does not know this and therefore doesn’t realize that the monster is nearby. From the soft and romantic lushness in the atmosphere, comes an atmosphere of suspense where the audience eagerly await the appearance of the monster. Branagh uses the lighting and the sound of the recorder to make us feel calm and romantic because of the recorder, although this does give us a strange feeling inside as when the recorder stops playing, there is a silence where we become eager to find out what happens next. The scene is a medium close-up.
This is effective because it shows us the interplay between Victor and Elizabeth The second sequence I chose to analyse was when Elizabeth lies back on her bed and we see s shot of the monster at the skylight. As the first scene begins, there is a silence in which Elizabeth is confused about what is happening. We see a medium shot of Elizabeth at this point. Elizabeth look around the room, then lies down with her facial expression changed as if Victor will control his matters. As she lies down with her head on her pillow, we see a close-up of Elizabeth’s face which seems slightly relaxed but still confused.
We hear a flash of lightning which changes the mood dramatically and we see a medium-shot of a figure at skylight as we hear thunder. At first we try to see who the figure is and we soon realise it is the monster as the camera does a little zoom-in so that we can see the monster. Next we are shown a shot of Elizabeth lying down, like before we saw the monster, who we see opening her mouth about to scream. She takes in a breath and as quick as a flash, we see the monsters hand put over Elizabeth’s mouth and this is done with a little zoom-in as if we were the monster who was putting our hands over Elizabeth’s mouth.
The speed at which the monster comes down from the skylight to put his hand over Elizabeth’s mouth makes us jump. The lightning is mysterious because it shows up and illuminates what is being looked at for a quick moment and then changes back to complete darkness as before the lightning struck and is like nothing happened or was there. The effect of the lightning makes the audience see the monster and the sound of the thunder makes us eager to see what happens next because of the monster’s appearance.
The third sequence I shoes to analyse was when we see a frame of the monster with his hand over Elizabeth’s mouth to a close-up of the monster’s face to when Elizabeth turns her face towards the door. First, we see a medium close-up of the monster with his hand over Elizabeth’s mouth. The monster says, “Don’t bother to scream,” and after a while of heavy breathing by Elizabeth, she nods her head to indicate that she won’t scream. The monster slowly raises his hand away from Elizabeth’s mouth. Elizabeth is calm at this point and says quietly, “Please don’t hurt me”.
This is unusual because at the sight of seeing the monster’s hideous face, most people would scream but in the case Elizabeth didn’t scream or shout. In the second frame of this sequence, we see a close-up of the monster’s face. The monster talks to Elizabeth, describing how beautiful she is and as he does this, we hear a gentle soothing sound which is suddenly interrupted when there is a flash of lightning, which changes the mood from gentleness to sudden orchestral music playing fast which goes with the lightning and thunder and how quickly the scenes changed.
The lightning, once again, makes us feel eager to learn what happens next. After we see Elizabeth’s face full of light from the lightning, we see a hand at the door. Elizabeth’s face is shown by a close-up. This is so that the audience can see clearly the reactions of Elizabeth as she turns her head towards the door in confusion. The monster only had one intention to fulfil on the wedding night and that was to kill the innocent Elizabeth. The fourth sequence I chose to analyse was when Victor and the men enter the room.
The open the door on the balcony had earlier indicated to Victor that someone had gone into the room – and he knew that it had to be the monster, therefore Victor and the men rushed to the room. We see a long-shot of Victor arriving into the room and we hear fast flowing dramatic music at the time. Next we see a medium-shot of the monster holding up the heart of Elizabeth. The audience is horrified, as if the expression on Victor’s face as he reacts to what he sees. We are shown a medium-shot of the monster holding the heart which is still beating.
Again, we are shown the facial expression of Victor with a medium-shot and once again a shot of the monster holding up the heart, which is still beating. This makes up feel horrified because we are disgusted by how the monster has pulled out the heart. This was the monster’s purpose on the wedding night – to kill Elizabeth. All the way through this sequence, we hear dramatic music played by an orchestra at quite a fast tempo and this is very effective for this sequence because everything is happening very quickly which also added by the fact of the scenes changing quickly.
The frames in this sequence are mainly medium-close-ups which show us details of the character’s facial expressions and emotions because we can only see one thing on the screen. In conclusion Branagh has used the lighting and sounds as well as the camera angles to create an atmosphere and I think that Branagh has been very successful at creating an atmosphere of horror and suspense in the wedding night scene.