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Film / Frankenstein (1910)

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The very first film adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, made by Thomas Edison's production company and released in 1910.

During his tenure at the college, a fellow named Frankenstein creates a living creature. Due to the evil in his mind, the resulting creation is a monster, which proceeds to stalk him and his bride.

The film is in Public Domain, and can be viewed via the Library of Congress' YouTube channel. The Library's upload was restored from the only known surviving nitrate print of the film and features a redone soundtrack by Donald Sosin.

This film has examples of:

  • Adaptational Jerkass: Unlike the novel and other adaptations, the creature isn't a lonely outcast seeking companionship, and is just a cruel bully who enjoys tormenting frankenstein For the Evulz.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Instead of being a reanimated human, the creature looks like a deformed sasquatch with a swollen, mishappen head.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The Monster becomes a malicious creature upon creation due to the evil in Frankenstein's mind. Once he manages to purify his mind, the Monster is defeated.
  • Body Horror: The monster's "birth" involves a vat of chemicals growing into a skeleton, with flesh and skin growing on it. Considering the age of this movie, it's a shockingly graphic scene.
  • Chemistry Can Do Anything: Despite Thomas Edison being more associated with electricity in Popular History, Frankenstein's monster being brought to life with electricity wouldn't be depicted until the 1930s. Edison's favorite scientific discipline was actually chemistry, so in this film Frankenstein creates the monster by pouring chemicals into a cauldron and watching the monster materialize out of it.
  • Color Wash: An early instance of films using color tints to set the mood. This one in particular uses amber in scenes featuring the Monster and teal in the climax.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: The Monster has long fingers as part of his general unusual appearance.
  • The Flame of Life: Due to the way they made the special effects. In order to show the creature being created they made a model of the creature and melted it with fire, then ran the film backwards. As a result we can see the flames of life entering into the creature (where in reality it was the flame of the fire escaping from the model).
  • Forehead of Doom: The creature, which was inherited by his Boris Karloff counterpart.
  • In Name Only: The adaption only keeps a handful of elements from the original book.
  • Not His Sled: If you were expecting the Downer Ending from the book, you're in for a surprise: instead Frankenstein defeats the Monster before it can kill any of his loved ones, and he lives Happily Ever After.
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: The process of creating the Monster is an alchemic one, with Frankenstein mixing unknown substances in a pot that forms itself into a humanoid when left fermenting.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Frankenstein's bride survives whereas she is killed by the monster in original novel.
  • Silent Movie: Produced before the era of reliable synchronized sound, whatever audio the audience would have experienced would have been provided in the theater by a piano player, foley artist, or recorded music on a phonograph depending on where you saw it.
  • The Power of Love: Through the love that he has for his bride, Frankenstein manages to purge the evil within him, and reduce the Monster into nothingess.
  • Protagonist Title: Fitting considering it's an adaptation of of the book of the same name. To restate the fact: Frankenstein is the scientist, not the monster.
  • Wedding Smashers: It is not until the Monster enters his house and harasses Frankenstein's wife-to-be on their wedding day that he becomes courageous enough to confront his evil creation.