If you were invisible, what is the one thing you’d want to do? Run around on a crime spree? Save the city from crime instead? Spy on people? Well, how about going mentally insane and unintentionally becoming the most feared creature in your corner of the world? I personally would rather enjoy sneaking into libraries and bookstores at night to read anything I wanted, and make rolls of sushi “magically” disappear. But, I suppose not everyone shares my love of literature and raw fish.
The Invisible Man was written by the masterful H.G. Wells and first adapted into film by director James Whale in 1933. The film depicts a scientist, who in his experiments, has come to find a way to become entirely invisible. After making himself invisible, to be seen by other humans, he must wrap his face in bandages and wear clothing on very inch of his body. When he arrives in a small village named Iping and trudges into an inn called the “Lion’s Head” the trouble begins. People begin to notice the strange appearance of Doctor Jack Griffin (played by Claude Rains) and his even stranger behavior. Shouting, fussing, and seemingly insane, he brings fear and silence to each room he walks into.
As I find to be common in most films from the era, there is a great deal of dialogue (some I deem unnecessary) and shoddy camera work, but it was obviously the best they could do in the time period. The film is broken into episodes and follows the insane doctor as he struggles to find a chemical mixture to cure him of his self-inflicted ailment, as his fiance worries endlessly over him and others try to clear him out of town.
On a personal note, I feel this movie is largely boasted about for no reason. I felt no connection to the characters, and I actually found the so-called “Doctor” to be quite frustrating. I suppose the “special effects” were alright, considering CG was non-existent and they had little technology to work with. The parts where he used his naked invisibility to cause havoc were a bit comical. The only part I found even remotely captivating was when he was speaking to Flora, played by Gloria Stuart, who some might know as “Old Rose” in Titanic (1997). He gives a monologue in which he vows to return to his beloved, and release his secret of invisibility to the world as his great discovery. Despite how emotionless her face was (and his for the most obvious of reasons), I could feel the raw emotion bursting in their chests as if it were in my own, and I remembered my own experiences of being torn from lovers of my past. The strain on my already wavering heartstrings was reason enough to complete the film, as I’m quite the sucker for the cliché of star-crossed lovers and insane romance (I am a Harley Quinn cosplayer after all).
Overall, I’d give this film a rather low rating. I never much enjoyed old films, but I suppose it never hurts to try one out. Readers should really give the film a shot themselves before taking my word for it though, so go ahead, kick back, make some popcorn, and enjoy the rantings and shenanigans of a lunatic!