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Posted December 11, 2015 by admin in Resource
 
 

Catatan Produksi Film Victor Frankenstein (2015)


About the Production

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.”

A pivotal moment for both Victor and Igor is an early scene where Victor straightens Igor’s hunchback, which McGuigan says is “a metaphor for the entire movie.” Having rescued Igor from a London circus, Victor takes him to his flat and within minutes throws Igor against the wall and produces a massive syringe with which he performs a lightning-fast medical procedure on his new “patient.” Moments later, Igor’s hunchback is corrected. “If you think you knew Victor, the first few minutes of the film will prove you don’t,” says McGuigan. “He’s dangerous and fun to watch.”

Fun and dangerous, yes, but he’s also, brilliant, obsessed – and a sociopath. As Victor walks a fine light between lightness and darkness, and between life and death, only Igor can keep him from a descent into madness from which there’ll be no return.

That’s no easy accomplishment, given that Victor and Igor are exploring fundamental questions, such as: Where do we come from? Where do we go when we die?

Can we prevent – or reverse – death?

“Victor and Igor are at the forefront of scientific and medical research,” notes McAvoy. “But just because they can cheat death, should they do it?

“I think Victor’s intentions are good,” he continues. “He’s looking to improve the human condition, which is very fragile. Victor is trying to make it more robust and, ideally, eliminate death, which has been a human obsession for ages.”

To McAvoy, a character with such world-changing ambitions would not be a lab rat holding course at a chalkboard. He’d be nothing less than a force of nature. “Victor just doesn’t stop moving. He’s a creator of machines, as well as of a man, plus a skilled engineer and an accomplished surgeon.”

Victor’s friendship with Igor is one of equals. Igor’s knowledge of anatomy instantly impresses the scientist, who takes Igor under his wing. Even as Igor is in many ways Victor’s first creation, Victor learns much from his friend and assistant.

Notes Radcliffe: “Igor has a very rich, intellectual life and, if he’s not the academic equal of Victor, he’s certainly a partner in terms of what they’re creating.”

Igor had spent his entire life in the circus, working as a clown. Although he’s much maligned and even abused by the owner and his fellow performers, Igor has become a gifted surgeon, healing injured performers and animals. Books and medicine are his refuge amidst these difficult, if not horrific, circumstances.

While visiting the circus in search of animal body parts, it is Victor who rescues Igor, after witnessing Igor performing an emergency procedure on an injured colleague.

“Victor lifts Igor out of those horrible conditions, which sets up an interesting dynamic in their relationship,” says Radcliffe. “He has created a new life for Igor. As Igor and Victor embark on this journey together, Victor starts losing his mind, and Igor tries to pull him back from the edge of insanity. But how do you stand up to somebody after they’ve given you everything? So, there’s an imbalance and tension in their relationship that is fascinating to me.”

Like Victor, Igor is a man of action. “Igor is quite well matched with Victor, in terms of physicality,” says Radcliffe. That translated into a lot of what Radcliffe calls “chucking each other around,” including the aforementioned and vigorous hunchback-removing procedure.

“Every time Daniel and I had a scene together, we’d ask each other, ‘How physical and dangerous-looking can we make this? Come on, man!,'” says McAvoy. “We are similar in energy levels and physical ability, so we just kind of went at each other, 12 hours each day. Adds Radcliffe: “James is a bold actor and really hits the ground running in an exciting way. That enabled us to make some interesting choices together.”

Igor’s only other friend is Lorelei, a beautiful trapeze artist with whom he had formed a close bond at the circus. It is Lorelei’s fall from the trapeze and Igor’s treatment of her severe injuries that so impresses Victor.

Former “Downton Abbey” star Jessica Brown Findlay portrays Lorelei, who despite her beauty, doesn’t fit into the world of the circus and has, notes Findlay, “found a real friend in Igor.”

Igor’s relationship with Lorelei is strong and deep, though it avoids the expected by never becoming a traditional romance. His dynamic with Victor adds further complexity to his relationship with Lorelei. “Lorelei is excited about Igor’s new opportunities, but when she witnesses the lengths to which Victor is pursuing his experiments, her emotional intelligence kicks in and she becomes fearful for Igor,” says Findlay.

Victor is none too pleased with Lorelei, whom he dismisses as a needless distraction for Igor. Notes McAvoy: “Victor perceives everyone, save Igor, as a hindrance, and Lorelei is an especially massive threat in Victor’s eyes, and he tries to undermine her at every step.”

Another thorn in Victor’s side is Inspector Turpin from Scotland Yard, who is investigating Victor’s morally questionable if not illegal activities. Andrew Scott, best known for his role as the malevolent Moriarty in the BBC-PBS production of “Sherlock,” takes on the role, which is a counterpoint to Victor, in that Turpin is a man of faith, and Victor is a man of science.

“Turpin absolutely cannot accept what Victor is doing, which is bringing back people from the dead,” notes Scott.

But they’re more alike than either would admit. Both men are obsessed…and damaged. Victor is fixated with creating life from death, and Turpin with religion and faith. Victor goes to any and all extremes to fulfill his dreams, and Turpin is equally resolute in stopping him, no matter what the cost. They fanatically adhere to their respective beliefs. Victor’s religion is science, whereas Turpin believes that taking creation into your own hands is to transgress against God.

Turpin, notes McGuigan, is an “old fashioned character that brings up questions of faith, but at the same time that’s a modern idea because we’re still talking about those issues today. Turpin is the story’s moral compass and conscience because he’s actually asking the right questions.”

If there’s true malice in VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN, it’s personified by the character of Finnegan, a wealthy medical student and classmate of Victor’s at the Royal College of Medicine. Finnegan, portrayed by Freddie Fox, funds Victor’s experiments for his own nefarious purposes. He’s a psychopath, and like many of his ilk, Finnegan is proficient in identifying weakness in others. “He’s as ambitious as Victor but not as medically gifted, so he invests his talents and ambitions in manipulating Victor,” says Fox.

Yet, Fox insists that Finnegan is no more villainous than any of the other characters. “Everyone in this story is compromised because they’re human beings with their individual desires,” he explains.

 

Filming on VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN took place across 60 days in the United Kingdom. During production, the UK experienced some of its worst storms on record, which made some exterior night shooting extremely challenging for the cast and crew.

The production made creative use of the storms for one of the film’s iconic scenes, the creation of the monster, and for its most impressive set: the interior of the castle and laboratory, where Victor brings his “experiment” to life.

The 60-foot-high cylindrical set, which had an open roof, was built over a four month period at Longcross Studios, Surrey. (The exterior scenes were shot at Dunnottar castle, a spectacular, crumbling fortress on a cliff top overlooking the sea, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.)

Once cast and crew were inside the walls provided some shelter from the relentless rainfall, but the lack of a roof (to facilitate the lightning strike that would bring the monster to life) made for a very wet set.

As filming progressed, the set was steadily destroyed by explosions, flames and water, which dramatically poured through it night after night.

This, and all the sets, were created by production designer Eve Stewart (a three-time Oscar nominee for her work on “The King’s Speech,” “Les Miserables” and “Topsy Turvy”), whom Daniel Radcliffe says is nothing less than “a force of nature and brilliant at what she does. Her work always has the ‘wow factor,’ as in, ‘god, this set is huge and really impressive!’ But the detail is also incredible, like the papers Eve had scattered around Victor’s lab.”

Stewart envisioned Victor’s apartment/workshop/lab as being massive, reflecting the Industrial Revolution, where machines were often the size of buildings. These scenes were shot at London’s Crossness Pumping Station, which was built in 1865 as part of Victorian London’s urgently needed main sewage system.

One usually thinks of the Industrial Revolution as being marked by soot, and even more soot, but Stewart says there were “enormous amounts of color underneath the factories chugging out soot.”

Stewart designed the circus set -where we meet Igor – from referencing Victorian circuses. On the surface, the circus, she says, “looks all jolly and wonderful and colorful, but actually poor Igor is enduring a horrific life of servitude, from which he’s rescued by Victor.”

 

Monsters

The story’s monster is aptly named Prometheus, for the figure who tried to steal fire from the gods, which Victor is, in his way, is attempting to do, by stealing life-giving force from God.

The final version of the character was embodied by 6′ 10″ actor Guillaume Delaunay, who donned a full prosthetic suit designed by Rob Mayor of Millennium FX, one of Europe’s leading suppliers of special makeup effects. To capture the monster’s sense of a life lost and reborn, Delaunay studied with a movement coach. “Prometheus is a newborn; he remembers how to move on an instinctual level,” says McGuigan.

Prometheus is actually version 2.0 of Victor’s work. An early try at creating life from death is named “Gordon,” and is even more horrific looking than Prometheus. Gordon is a mish-mash of animal body parts, including a hyena’s leg, a monkey’s head, and a dog’s leg. “It’s not pleasant,” says McGuigan, in dramatic understatement, “but that’s the whole idea. Even though the audience may not see it, there’s a reason behind every choice for a limb and tissue. It’s all based on science.”

In working with his teams to conceive the design of Gordon, McGuigan likens himself to one of the subjects of his film. “It was incredibly exciting coming up with that design. You know, you become a bit like Victor Frankenstein because you’re thinking, oh, I’ll take a bit of this animal, and cross it with that animal…”

Still, it’s not all about science and scares. “There’s a look of sorrow and sadness in Gordon’s eyes,” says Rob Mayor.

For much of Gordon’s on-screen time, he was controlled by cables operated by puppeteers. “It’s almost too real,” says executive producer Derek Dauchy. “Audiences aren’t going to believe we built this thing; they’ll think it’s all CGI.”

Prometheus and Gordon point to a key element of VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN: invention and creation. But the film’s greatest creation is its unique take on the story of Igor and Victor, which provides a one-of-a-kind version of a classic tale.

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