June Issue 2015
Classic Film Review: The Invisible Man
H.G. Wells’ chilling novel, The Invisible Man, was adapted for the big screen by director James Whale in 1933. Besides a few twists that did not exist in the original plot penned by the master himself, the film recreates the novel’s air of mystery and secrecy brilliantly.
Claude Rains is compelling in his portrayal of the title character, Dr Jack Griffith, a man engulfed by his greed for scientific glory. No mean feat, given that Rains is invisible or masked throughout the film. The visual effects, that portray so convincingly the invisibility of The Invisible Man, also deserve praise considering that the film was made in the early 20th century.
Whale’s adaptation begins with a lone figure, muffled in bandages and dark goggles, trudging up a desolate hill. The unforgiving weather and the dull lighting appropriately foreshadow the misfortune that is to befall this character. After seeking sanctuary at the Lion’s Head Inn for his ongoing experiments, Girffith comes face to face with the angry landlord and his wife who demand that he leave immediately. This marks the beginning of the conflict that makes The Invisible Man less of a man and more of a monster: he begins a series of “murders here and there,” derailing a train, killing a police officer and his partner in crime, to name just a few. As the story progresses, it is revealed that the science experiment that has made Griffith invisible is also what is making him power-hungry and driving him insane.
The film, although dark, has comical undertones. And the incongruity between the two alludes to the paradox of Griffith using science — an instrument of good — for his evil personal ambitions. At just over an hour long, the length of the film can also be seen as a metaphor for the stunted life of someone who dares to compete with nature and “meddle in things that man must leave alone.”
This review was originally published in Newsline’s June 2015 issue.