Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Frankenstein (1910)

DIRECTOR: J. Searle Dawley

WRITER: J. Searle Dawley


Augustus Phillips
Charles Ogle
Mary Fuller


Frankenstein is a young student who discovers that he can create life. With science, he plans to build the perfect human being that the world has ever seen. It's when his creation turns out the be a hideous monster that he returns home defeated. When he returns home to his sweetheart, his monstrous creation follows him and turns out to be jealous of anyone else who tries to get close to Frankenstein.

I'll be the first to admit that I've never read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It wasn't a requirement for us to read during English class when I was in school. We were stuck reading The Outsiders and Romeo And Juliet. So I've never really been that interested in the whole story and legend behind Victor Frankenstein. With my sudden interest in delving into the early short films of the late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds. I decided to tackle my first film adaptation of the classic story.

As the short began, I was immediately pulled in. The film while silent had a score and title cards to get us from one scene to the next. Up until this point, none of the other short films had done that. At fourteen minutes, this is also the longest short film that I've reviewed to date. I was entirely into the way this short was structured. It felt like it was the first glimpse that I was getting into what would eventually become the way that Hollywood now makes movies. It felt like a proper scene and act.

The standout moment of this short is the creation of Frankenstein's monster. A scene that is both dazzling and horrific. I'm so used to the scene featuring electricity being the element that revives his monster. This is something else entirely. His creation is created in a cauldron. The body goes from ash and over a few minutes, regenerates from nothing to flesh and bone. It's a haunting visual that had even me wondering how they created this in the early nineteen hundreds.

Frankenstein is drenched in a golden hue. This wasn't in black and white like the four previous short films that I had reviewed on the blog. I'm not sure if the version that I watched was a newly restored version of the short or this is how it initially played to audiences. It almost looks like the film stock had been exposed to the sunlight and it caused the film to be ruined nearly. While grainy regarding quality. I thought that the orange tinge of the film gave the film a visual that set it apart from the other short movies that I've watched.

The score that was created for the short film is fantastic. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was especially effective during the creation of Frankenstein's Monster. I also liked it during the scenes where his monstrous creation followed him home. I thought it was a genuinely well-done score. It really does show how much music can change a scene in a movie. Without it, the fourteen minutes may have played entirely differently. This could have been a completely different experience without this excellent soundtrack.



- A body is seen of fire and regenerating from bone to flesh.

It's hard not to appreciate the creativity in the first-ever film adaptation of the classic, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The score is fantastic, the title card and use of letters to propel the silent story forward is neat, and we have some truly haunting visuals in the infamous Frankenstein's Monster creation sequence. This is worth a watch, just to say that you've witnessed where it all begun for Frankenstein on a visual level.

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