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THE INVISIBLE MAN—PAST, PRESENT, FANCIFUL AND SCIENTIFIC

I’M NOT INTO horror as an entertainment genre; I guess there is enough of it in real life. But the recent rave about The Invisible Man movie encourages today’s tidbits about this concept’s past and present, its fanciful and scientific appearances.

The Original, 1897. H.G. Wells followed The Time Machine, 1895, and The Island of Doctor Moreau, 1896, with The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds, both in 1897. For good reason, he is known as a father of science fiction (Jules Verne shares patrimony).

A first edition of The Invisible Man, 1897; a facsimile is available for reading at wikisource.org.

Medical student turned scientist Griffin has devised a way to change a being’s refractive index to that of air. This invisibility works on his cat. It works on him. Alas, he hasn’t a way to reverse it and he becomes mentally unstable. Chaos follows.

Professor John Sutherland, English academic, said that Wells, like Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Rudyard Kipling, “essentially wrote boy’s books for grown-ups.” Bless the four authors for that.

The Invisible Man On Screen, 1933. The first film version differs here and there from Wells’s original tale: Griffin is a loner in the novel, but has Flora, a cinema fiancée. His only confidant, Dr. Kemp, is in both, though Kemp’s character differs. Griffin is more sympathetic on screen, and some scenes are played for comedic effect.

In 2008, the film was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as one being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart in The Invisible Man, 1933.

Oxymoronic though it sounds, British-born Claude Rains made his first American film appearance in The Invisible Man, 1933. (Spolier Alert: Griffin slowly becomes visible in dying.) Rains is also remembered for portraying Police Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca, 1942.

Cinema Sequels. The tale has had all sorts of sequels on radio, TV, stage, and film. Here are two tidbits:

Человек-невидимка, 1984, a Russian version, had a talented but misunderstood Griffin whose friend Kemp wants to rule the world. Wikipedia notes, “The movie remains unknown to the Western audience because of a violation of Wells’s copyright.”

The movie Amazon Women on the Moon, 1987, is an American satirical take on low-budget movies. In one of its segments, Ed Begley, Jr., portrays Griffin’s son, who believes he has inherited his father’s invisibility. He hasn’t.

This reminds me of real life, or what passed for real life: Aleister Crowley as described here at SimanaitisSays in “Invisible Men, Seen and Unseen.”

An Invisibility Cloak, 2010. J.K. Rawling introduces an invisibility cloak in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 2010, the first book in the series.

Rawling gives a complete history of Harry’s cloak, as detailed at harrypotter.fandom.com. Briefly, there’s a succession of cloak-wielding kin, beginning with Harry’s great great grandfather Henry Potter, a Wizengamot member.

Another Invisibility Cloak, 2015. SimanaitisSays addressed the scientific aspects of invisibility cloaks here at “Can You See Me Now?” Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, finessed an object’s reflected light to make it invisible.

Above, incoming light rays encounter an object; their reflected waves are dictated by the object’s shape. Unless, as shown below, a nanocloak of calibrated pieces of gold render the object invisible. Image from “Skintight Invisibility Cloak Radiates Deception,” Science, September 18, 2015.


The Invisible Man, 2020. Rotten Tomatoes offers its Critics Consensus of the most recent film: “Smart, well-acted, and above all scary, The Invisible Man proves that sometimes the classic source material for a fresh reboot can be hiding in plain sight.”

Image from rogerebert.com.

The review at rogerebert.com says, “The abusive male himself might be unseen, but the fear he spreads is in plain sight in The Invisible Man.… Sometimes to an excruciating degree.”

Me? I haven’t even watched the trailers. I scare easy. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2020

3 comments on “THE INVISIBLE MAN—PAST, PRESENT, FANCIFUL AND SCIENTIFIC

  1. sabresoftware
    March 5, 2020

    Three items. “Jules Verve” was probably meant to be Jules Verne. “his only confident” should probably have been “confidant”. And the quote from Roger Ebert was actually from Tomris Laffly at Rogerebert.com, Roger having sadly left us in 2013.

    • simanaitissays
      March 5, 2020

      Thanks for this lamentable carelessness on my part, to be corrected forthwith. As I have mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of the electronic website medium is avoiding have to run from drugstore to drugstore with Magic Marker correcting editorial errors.

      • simanaitissays
        March 5, 2020

        And, of course, I mean “Thanks for your identifying this…” in the above. –ds

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