Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy star in “Victor Frankenstein,” a dynamic and thrilling twist on a legendary tale. Radical scientist Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) and his equally brilliant protégé Igor Strausman (Radcliffe) share a noble vision of aiding humanity through their groundbreaking research into immortality. But Victor’s experiments go too far, and his obsession has horrifying consequences. Only Igor can bring his friend back from the brink of madness and save him from his monstrous creation.
“Victor Frankenstein” is a “Frankenstein” movie unlike any other. While inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic novel and the countless interpretations of that story, screenwriter Max Landis’ “regeneration” focuses on the relationship between Victor and his best friend and assistant Igor. In fact, it’s the first story to be told largely from Igor’s perspective. “It’s a love story between these two mean, really,” notes director Paul McGuigan. “Victor and Igor need each other; in fact, Victor needs Igor probably more than Igor needs Victor in his life.”
Moreover, the film, though set in 1860, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, has a contemporary sensibility. “I don’t think of it as a period film,” says Daniel Radcliffe, “but as being completely modern. Victor and Igor have cutting-edge ideas; they’re the tip of the spear. They view science as being more than just observational. They believe it could be creative and re-shape the world.
“I like the film’s irreverent tone and how it avoids being Victorian and ‘buttoned-up,’” Radcliffe continues. “Victor and Igor are forward thinking.” Adds McGuigan: “These two young men are changing the world.”
“Victor Frankenstein” is also, notes James McAvoy, a love letter to the myriad films featuring those characters and themes. “This film has many of the familiar elements you expect to see in a Frankenstein movie, but adds unexpected dimensions of character, relationships and entertainment.”
“Max Landis has done nothing less than capture the zeitgeist of all the Frankenstein movies he’s watched,” says McGuigan. “He’s cherry-picked ideas and created his own ‘monster,’ so to speak.”
McGuigan was especially drawn to Landis’ decision to tell the story through Igor’s eyes. That notion points to a key misperception about the character and his role in Frankenstein lore. Igor was not a character in Mary Shelley’s book, nor did he appear in most of the subsequent film interpretations. Actor Dwight Frye’s hunchbacked lab assistant in James Whale’s “Frankenstein” (1931) is the main source for the “Igor” of public imagination, though the character he played was actually named Fritz. Most moviegoers know the character through Marty Feldman’s performance in Mel Brooks’ beloved comedy “Young Frankenstein,” though Feldman’s character insists on being called “Eye-gore.”
A different kind of moniker mix-up accompanies Victor himself. Many people attribute that name to the monster, instead of its creator – the good doctor. “So we give the name ‘Frankenstein’ back to the scientist – to Victor Frankenstein,” says McGuigan.
McAvoy relates that, “Whenever somebody asked me what I was doing at the moment (during production of Victor Frankenstein), I would say, I’m playing Frankenstein, and they’d reply, ‘You’re a little short to be playing the monster.’ And I’d correct them and say, ‘No, no, it’s the doctor.’ So, yeah, we’re giving the name back to Dr. Vic.”
“Victor Frankenstein” opens November 25 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.