This country likes what science gives it, but doesn’t like the questions science raises – Frankenweenie

Earlier this week I had the great opportunity of attending the Opening Gala of the London Film Festival at the IMAX in London. The film that had the honour of opening the 2012 edition was “Frankenweenie“, an excellent stop-motion animation by Tim Burton. As expected the themes in the film had that strange gloomy optimistic horror geeky feeling. The story is that of a teenager whose love for his dog transcends death.

Certainly the story is one of friendship combined with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The teenager, Victor Frankenstein is a solitary but creative kind of guy who is interested in stop-motion films (self-referential? perhaps…) and is interested in science. When his dog Sparky dies in an accident, Victor gets the idea of bringing Sparky back to life after seeing a demonstration in class involving a frog and electricity (you know the one…).

rp_frankenweenie-mr-rzykruski1.jpgI thought the film was very good but what really made it for me, apart from the multiple reference to classic horror films, was the presence of the vampiresque science teacher, Mr Rzykruski. He certainly is a striking teacher and although severe-looking, a great inspiration for the kids interested in the science fair. After the experiments to bring back the dead go wrong, the parents decide to hold a meeting to expel the teacher. In his defence, the heavily accented teacher tells the parents that they react like that because they are ignorant and stupid, but that their children can still be instructed.

In a great sequence afterwards, Mr Rzykruski remarks that “Science is neither good nor bad, but it can be used for both”. We are indeed in a time where scientific advancements make a lot of people uneasy and the film reminds us, via Mr Rzykruski that those pursuing the scientific endeavour to be patient and respectful. One line that is still with me is the one delievered as Victor approaches Mr Rzykruski to say good-bye: “This country likes what science gives it, but doesn’t like the questions science raises”. A very timely remark.