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Frankenstein (1910)

Review

Author
Date
04-10-2004
Comments
Frankenstein 1910
Runtime
16 minutes
Countries
Cast and Crew
Director
Makeup
Production Company

It's amazing the difference 50 years makes. In 1950, Edison's Frankenstein was on the "Films Lost Forever" list. In 2003, it became available for the first time on DVD. I had the opportunity to view it on the big screen at Monsterbash 2003, and I can say from the very bottom of my dark, scabied heart, it is a must have for any monster or silent film fan.

The film stars Charles Ogle (Monster) and Augustus Phillips (Doctor). Yeah, I don't know who they are either. However, they were incredibly convincing in their roles. The Monster somewhat resembles a love child of Quasimodo and Hammer's Monster from Hell. It's quite disturbing really. But, I believe that is the point.

As far as the technical aspects, the cinematography ranks right up there with Nosferatu, Phantom of the Opera, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. There is simply a level of eeriness that only a silent movie can emit. The main difference between this film and other Frankenstein films, was the fact that the monster was not created from the dead's body parts. Instead, he was created in a gigantic witch's cauldron through some sort of primordial ooze. This was the very first "creation" film. At the time, the religious zealots thought the film was making a mockery of God, so the film was banned very shortly after its release. After that, it was condemned to obscurity, until a man named Alois Dettlaff resurrected it.

I had the opportunity to hear Alois speak at the 2003 Monsterbash. Apparently, he had quite a collection of silent films, and did not realize that his copy of Frankenstein (1910) was so valuable until he noticed it on a list of "Top 10 Most Wanted Lost Films" in 1950. His version was missing the opening frame (which displays the title of the picture -- this was commonly done when a theater was done showing a film to prevent the next owner from showing it publicly), but the rest of the film was completely intact. His print of the film is the only known theatrical print to survive. What a loss it would have been to monster fans if this little gem was never found. We could only hope London After Midnight might have the same glorious recovery.

Less than five minutes after observing this little film, I bought the DVD immediately. The opening screen and the title cards have been modernized, but the actual story is complete. Alois released Frankenstein (1910) on DVD with Nosferatu, so the first Dracula and the first Frankenstein are now together on one DVD This is the first time ever that Frankenstein 1910 has been released on video to the public. If you are an "old school" monster fan much like myself, this little film is a must own. It is currently available online via Google Video.

Comments

I love silent films and this

I love silent films and this these are one of the few I love! I've managed to get Nosferatu as a stand-a-lone but not for Frankenstein which is disappointing! Going to go try to get Frankenstein in HMV tomorrow.

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