April 17, 2007

Frankenstein and WXIII


Germaine Greer's trashing of the chic literary theory that Mary Shelley didn't write Frankenstein provides a perfect analysis of Patlabor: WXIII (W-13). Greer's argument is twofold: 1) Frankenstein is hardly a "masterpiece," and therefore by itself hardly a motivation for literary fraud; and 2) it could have been only be written by a woman.

Dr. Frankenstein, she observes, is more mother than mad scientist, and the

driving impulse of this incoherent tale is a nameless female dread, the dread of gestating a monster. Monsters are not simply grossly deformed foetuses. Every mass murderer, every serial killer, the most sadistic paedophile has a mother, who cannot disown him.

In W-13 a scientist creates the monster out of tissue cloned from her dead child, and then keeps it alive even as it launches on its murderous rampage. As Greer observes about Frankenstein, "the monster is made as human as any other character; his depravity is the consequence of his miserable existence and his existence is Frankenstein's fault."

W-13 is ultimately a story of family annihilation, a cruelly ironic twist on the traditional fairy tale conceit wherein the childless couple is rewarded with a child, albeit with severe existential provisos. In the modern version the child represents the inheritance of two families, and the finality of the loss is almost mythically tragic in its implications.

The scene this trailer opens with (when the detective finally puts all of the pieces together) is one of the most haunting I've seen in a movie.

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