More than two decades before Boris Karloff brought the iconic Frankenstein monster to life in Frankenstein (1931), the Edison Manufacturing Company, run by the Thomas Edison, was the first to adapt
More than two decades before Boris Karloff brought the iconic Frankenstein monster to life in Frankenstein (1931), the Edison Manufacturing Company, run by the Thomas Edison, was the first to adapt the story of the mad doctor who played god.
Frankenstein (1910) is a twelve minute silent short that tells a very loose and heavily condensed version of Mary Shelly’s novel.
The film begins as the insane Dr Frankenstein spawns his monster from a cauldron of chemicals, not building it from body parts stolen from graves as in the book and later film. Upon seeing what he has birthed, Frankenstein turns against his creation, only to have the creature seek revenge and stalk him and his family.
Whenever you say Frankenstein, the image that pops into your head is the block-headed, bolt-necked, shambling and snarling giant from the 1931 picture, but the 1910 version of the iconic monster is nearly unrecognisable. Edison’s Frankenstein features an ogre-ish looking hunchbacked creature, portrayed by prolific silent movie actor Charles Ogle.
While Frankenstein is incredibly tame by today’s standards, it is a fascinating watch for any film-lover, coming from a time when the art of cinema was in its infancy.
While its execution may be crude, it is very easy to appreciate the creativity of that must of gone into it.. The early cinema pioneers had very few luxuries to work with when it came to visual effects, everything had to be painstakingly handcrafted and built from scratch for them to get their vision on the screen.
Frankenstein is a superb example of early filmaking and scenes such as Frankenstein’s monster taking shape as the mad doctor watches with glee must been shocking for the pre-World War I audiences.
It is astounding to think that you are watching a film that was released only 15 years after the Lumiere brothers first debuted their cinématographe camera and their film ‘The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station’ at sideshows in France, sparking the birth of cinema as we know it.
For more than half a century the film was considered to be lost, with only a handful of stills and a poster being known to exist. But in the middle of the seventies a single filmcan containing a heavily damaged copy of the movie was finally found in the hands of private collector Alois F. Dettlaff.
It is has since been lovingly restored and is available for all too see.
Frankenstein helped lay the groundwork for an entire century of scary movies and takes a rightful spot in the halls of horror history.
Make sure to check in tomorrow as we move along to the twenties, the golden age of silent horror