/ Christians and culture / I, Frankenstein – Movie Discussion

I, Frankenstein – Movie Discussion

Stacey Tuttle on January 30, 2014 - 4:53 pm in Christians and culture, Movie Responses, Movie Reviews 2014

i_frankenstein_ver7_xlrgI know the critics have been hard on this one, but from the perspective of providing a lot of opportunity for meaningful, spiritual conversation—I, Frankenstein was actually fantastic!

I, Frankenstein essentially picks up where the book left off.  Frankenstein followed his creation out into the frozen wilderness and died of the elements.  The creature, however, was immune to the cold and survived, and he’s been surviving for hundreds of years, alone in the world, wholly unlike any other being on earth.  Meanwhile, while the creature (later named Adam), was engulfed in his own pain and suffering, captivated by his own narrative, there was a spiritual battle going on in the world between demons and gargoyles.

“The gargoyle order was commanded into being by Michael, the archangel.”  (An interesting point of discussion would be why angels and demons aren’t fighting the battle—why gargoyles?)  The gargoyles fought against the demons, on behalf of the angels.  It’s not long before Adam found himself in the middle of their fight.

The demons wanted bodies to possess, but they could only possess bodies without souls—which was a predicament since man is born with a soul.  That’s where Adam came in.  He wasn’t created by God.  He was created by man, therefore he didn’t have a soul.  The demons not only wanted Adam, but they wanted to know how to reproduce thousands of Adam’s – bodies for the demons to possess.

The demons wanted him for nefarious purposes.  The gargoyles wanted him too, however, because Adam was the best demon slayer of them all, and they needed him to fight with them against the demons.  Adam was so wrapped up in his own drama, however, that he couldn’t see the larger story.  He wasn’t committed to any cause, he was just committed to himself.  Adam was asking fundamental questions about his existence.  Who am I?  Why was I created?  What’s my purpose?  Am I alone, or are there others like me?

Adam’s identity crisis was heightened by the fact that his father, Frankenstein, abandoned him, disappointed him, lied to and betrayed him.  Further complicating matters was the fact that there wasn’t another creature like him.  Anywhere.

In the end, Adam was changed by the kindness of a woman.  Terra, a scientist who was one of the few on earth who could understand who Adam was and where he came from, treated him with great kindness—as if he was human.  As so often happens, he began to live up to the way she saw him and treated him.  Once he began to care about someone outside of himself, he began to be more aware of the larger story he was in the middle of and he began to help the gargoyles in their fight against the demons.

I’ve only scratched the surface, but my intent isn’t to recap the whole story for you, but to provide you some background knowledge to get you started and give you a frame work for discussion about the larger themes of religion, daddy issues, purpose, identity, ethics and science that this movie brings up.

Here are some of the themes and some questions to get you started.

Social Responsibility:  We live up to people’s expectations of us.   

When people treated Adam like a monster, he acted like one.  When they treated him like a (good) person, he acted like one. 

  • How do you respond to people’s thoughts and expectations of you?
  • If this is true, that people live up to our expectations of them, then what responsibility do you have toward you fellow human?  How can the way you think about them, treat them, and what you expect of them affect the kind of people they turn out to be?
  • This may all be true, but how much responsibility do you think Adam (and people in general) had to do the right thing, no matter what other people expected of them or said or did to them?

Spiritual Battle:

There was spiritual battle going on that humans (and for a long time Adam) were not aware of. 

  • Do you know that, according to Ephesians 6:12, there’s a spiritual battle going on around us too?
  • How would your life change if the spiritual battle became a reality to you?  (Like what if you could see it?  What if it was on ESPN?)  How would your life change if you knew that you were actually a part of that battle?
  • There was a war going on over Adam.  There is one going on over you, too.  (Satan is looking for who he can destroy.  God is looking for who He can support.)  How do you feel about that?  What do you think you can/should do about that?
  • What made Adam willing to get involved in the battle?
  • Why do you think the movie had demons and gargoyle’s fighting, instead of demons and angels?

Sanctity of Life / Science

Because Adam was created by man in a laboratory, vs. the normal way, by God in a womb, it raises a lot of critical questions…

  • Where does life begin?  And where does it end?
  • Where does our soul come from?
  • Even though Adam had killed Frankenstein’s wife in cold blood, Leonore said, “The fact is Adam is alive, and a life is sacred.”  Is all life sacred?  Do a person’s actions change the value of their life?  What about the sacredness of their life?
  • Can science go too far?  Did Frankenstein go too far with his creature?
  • As a Christian, how do we respond to issues like cloning, various reproductive/infertility measures, etc?  Can we create life?  If we can, should we?  Before we can answer many of these questions, we must first deal with the question of where life and the soul comes from.

Sovereignty of God: 

Leonore told her fellow gargoyle’s, “God may not have put Adam here, but He did allow him to survive for 220 years over undeniable odds.  …  Who are we to questions God’s decision?” 

  • How does Leonore’s submission to God’s sovereign authority affect the way she sees Adam?
  • How does it affect the way she treats Adam?
  • If you really believed and trusted in God’s sovereign authority, how would it change the way you see unwanted things and people in your life?
  • If you really believed and trusted in God’s sovereign authority, how would it change the way you respond to unwanted things and people in your life?

Our Identity

Part of Adam’s struggle throughout the movie is understanding who he is.  Neither human, nor gargoyle, nor demon, he has no one to relate to, no grid for understanding who he is.  He naturally turned to his creator to understand, but Frankenstein was horrified by his creation and turned his back on it.  Adam was so wounded, and so isolated that he began to believe the worst of what had been said about him—that he was a monster, inside and out. 

  • Most people saw Adam’s outside and judged his inside.  Leonore and Terra were different.  How did they see / judge him?  How did that change him?
  • Do you feeljudged by others for what is inside of you, or outside of you?  How does that make you feel?
  • How do you see others?  Do you see / judge the outside or the inside?
  • Adam felt that his identity was based on a summation of his parts.  “I’m a dozen pieces,” he says, therefore, he feels he must be a monster.  We can feel that our identities are a summation of our physical parts (we have pretty parts or ugly parts, or broken parts, etc.), or that they are a summation of our accomplishments and/or failures, or a summation of our past…   How do you tend to identify yourself?
  • Frankenstein never gave Adam a name, and that haunted him.  He was simply “the creature,” until Leonore named him Adam .  That name was hopeful, because it indicated that he was simply the first, not the only.  Have you ever felt nameless?  How did that feel?  Have you ever had names that you didn’t like given to you?  Has anyone ever give you a name that changed things for you?  It felt hopeful or loving?

The Great Paradox:  Lose your Life to Find it

Adam was so intent on finding the questions to his life and identity, that he wasn’t willing to help anyone else.  He didn’t care for anyone else.  Ironically, it was only in caring for someone besides himself that he began to find the answers to his questions and pain. 

  • The Bible says that if we wish to find our life, we must lose it.  How was this principle true for Adam?
  • Have you experienced this principle in your own life?

Purpose: 

Identity, laying down your life for something bigger than you, these things are critically integrated with finding your purpose.  Adam’s final words show all three of these concepts, resolved and woven together:  “We do not ask for the lives we are given, but each of us has a right to defend ours.  I am fighting to defend mine.  I, descender of the demon hoard.  I, my father’s son.  I, Frankenstein.”

  • Leonore changed, from trying to kill Adam, to saving him, because he found his “higher purpose”.  What was his purpose? 
  • Adam’s purpose helped him come to terms with the pain of his past, his creation and his relationship with his father.   How would your life change if you knew your purpose? 
  • What do you think is your purpose?
  • Which do you think comes first, an understanding of your identity, or an understanding of your purpose?  Which is most important?
  • Leonore told Adam, “Rejected by your maker… you put your emotion above your sacred duty.”  Have you ever let your pain and/or emotions get in the way of your duty?

Review by Stacey Tuttle

Click here to read a collection of quotes from I, Frankenstein.

Click here to read more reviews and articles by Stacey Tuttle.

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1 Comments
  • February 21, 2014

    I watched the movie yesterday, it was a short one but I enjoyed it.
    I dropped by here while trying to find the quote “We do not ask for the lives we are given, but each of us has a right to defend ours…”

    This is a very good review of the movie, I really like the questions you raised and I think they worth us to ask ourselves. Thank you!

    Reply