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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Victor Frankenstein

Where Are the Women? Victor Frankenstein

There is only one female character, and she is here to be adored, rescued, and to tell the male protagonist how absolutely brilliant and perfect he is.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -20

-10
Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]


-10
Is there a woman who is mostly pretty awesome and perfect who is present to support a man improving himself? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of women in authority]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -5

-5
Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: 0

[no issues]

WILDCARD SCORE: -5

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

-5
The cop who wants to stop Frankenstein’s experiments is driven by religious convictions concerned with the fact that his wife is dead. She is entirely absent from the film as a character, and exists only as a nameless spiritual motivating force. This is similar to, and as problematic as, the “dead mother” trope [why this is an issue]. (By contrast, Frankenstein’s dead brother is also absent except as a spiritual motivating force, but he gets a name and a heroic backstory. We never know the wife’s name or how or why she died.)

TOTAL SCORE: -30

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: Ya wanna tell a new sort of Frankenstein story? How about the circus freak and self-trained doctor whom the mad scientist rescues to become his lab assistant is a young woman? That would be new, and could have added another layer of thematic power to a tale of clashing mores (many people once thought it was unnatural and unholy for women to use their brains for anything beyond needlepoint; that a woman could have taught herself medicine would be an intriguing support of Frankenstein’s dismissal of outdated notions about life and death, and additional moral quandary for a female protagonist: could Frankenstein be right with some of his progressive ideas, but wrong with others?).

Instead, there is precisely one female character with any presence in this movie, and she is here to be adored from afar by the male protagonist (the aforementioned lab assistant), then rescued by him, then fucked by him, and then to tell him how absolutely brilliant and perfect he is in order to guide him gently toward his ultimate heroism. What a treat for her! (There is one more woman with a tiny speaking role, just one or two lines; her only name, according to the credits, is “Sexy Society Girl”… played by a 37-year-old actress, not by a child.)


Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Victor Frankenstein! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Victor Frankenstein.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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where are the women

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