Frankenstein is a young man going off to college. He says good-bye to his father and Elizabeth, his sweetheart. Two years later he has discovered the mystery of life. High on whatever fumes he is inhaling, Frankenstein gleefully decides to create a human. He mixes a bunch of chemicals together and puts them in a huge caldron that appears to be in a cabinet or closet of some kind. He closes the door and watches through a peephole as the chemicals flame up and a skeletal creature of some kind begins to form. The skeleton then forms itself into a hideous monster.
This is where Frankenstein begins to realize that all is not well. He backs away from the cabinet as a deformed hand reaches out. Then the door opens and a deformed creature emerges. Frankenstein is appalled and faints. Haunted by his creation he is taken ill.
When he recovers he leaves college and returns home. He apparently has abandoned his creation and basically is pretending it does not exist.
The creature, on the other hand, follows Frankenstein home. The monster sees Frankenstein in his loving home with his sweetheart Elizabeth, the girl he is to marry, and becomes jealous. He attacks Frankenstein. He sees his reflection in a mirror and flees.
Frankenstein and Elizabeth marry. The monster shows up once again and harasses the couple. When the monster once again sees his own reflection and… apparently “the creation of an evil mind is overcome by love and disappears.” I know is sounds stupid. I didn’t write it, Dawley did.
“Frankenstein” was released in 1910 and was written and directed by J. Searle Dawley for Edison Studios. Dawley worked at Edison Studios and created the film in about three days. It is about 13 minutes long and is a silent film.
Many places reference it as being 16 minutes long but I haven’t found one. I suspect a few minutes have gone missing since the entire movie itself had been considered lost at one time. Apparently an original nitrate print was found in the 1970’s in Wisconsin of all places. A film collector bought it from his mother-in-law in the 1950’s, who also collected films. Not knowing what he had it just sat around until in the 70’s Dettlaff, the collector, had a preservation copy make of it. BearManor Media released a restored copy in 2010. The University of Geneva film society also did a formal restoration in 2016 and then again the film was restored by the Library of Congress in 2017.
It is the first filmed version of the story and no, it does not follow the book. In this version the monster is created using chemicals and potions not sewn together from body parts as in the book and subsequent movies. The effect was created by burning a dummy and playing the film backwards. Actually it was a cool special effect.
Even though the film has been restored it still looks like crap in places. I’ll wager that if you were over 110 you’d look like crap in a few places too. The best restoration is the Library of Congress version done in 2017.
It’s a great piece of film. The monster is good for 1910 and the effect of creating it is well done. I believe the tinting was part of the original film. The fabulous new music score was written and played by Composer Donald Sosin. He is best known for his music scores for silent films. He has written more than a thousand film scores and recorded hundreds.