Parody & Young Frankenstein

Last quarter, we read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. This is a story that has created many additional movies, songs, books, etc. One of the most famous examples is a movie titled Young Frankenstein from 1974. This movie is a parody. A parody or spoof is a work (movie, song, text, cartoon, or graphic novel) created to poke fun at the subject, author, or style of an original work. A parody can be harsh or humorous. A parody often makes use of satire and irony to achieve humor and commentary on the original work.

Recall that irony is using a word or phrase to mean the exact opposite of its literal or normal meaning. There are three kinds of irony: dramatic irony, verbal irony and situational irony.

Dramatic irony is when the reader or the audience sees a character's mistakes or misunderstandings, but the character himself does not.

Verbal irony is when the writer says one thing and means another.

Situational irony is when there is a significant difference between a particular action and the result.

We will be talking about satire in the next couple of weeks. But as a general introduction, satire is a literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness, often with the intent of correcting, or changing, the subject of the satiric attack.

Today we are going to look at a humorous parody of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In 1974 Mel Brooks produced Young Frankenstein. This film is a parody of Boris Karloff's classical horror film that was produced in 1930. Most of the lab equipment used in this parody are the same props that were created and used in the 1931 version. Brooks shot this entire film in black and white to mimic the look of the earlier films. Brooks also used 1930's style opening credits, and period scene transitions like wipes and fade to black.

This movie is "number 28 on Total Film Magazine's 'List of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films of All Time', number 56 on Bravo television network's list of the '100 Funniest Movies,' and number 13 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 funniest American movies. In 2003, it was deemed 'culturally, historically or aesthetically significant' by the United States National Film Preservation Board, and selected for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry."1 All of that being said, this is your break before we dive in again. I would like you to watch about 5 minutes of this movie. As you watch, please look for:

  • situational, verbal and dramatic irony
  • satire
  • specific elements that make this movie funny
  • does this movie have anything in common with Shelley's Frankenstein?

Last modified: Friday, 1 February 2013, 1:08 PM