The first film adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1910) was just sixteen minutes long. It opens with Victor Frankenstein (Augustus Phillips) leaving for college, seen off by his parents.
A scant two years later he has discovered "the secrets of life," while pacing around in his garret with an "oh my goodness" attitude to his body language.
Before his important experiment, he writes a letter to his sweetheart informing her he's about to create life.
He promises that as soon as he's finished making "the most perfect human being the world has yet known," he'll come to claim her as his bride "when this marvelous work is accomplished."
His creation begins with a pot of cake batter which he tosses in a cauldron & here's the important part, he seals the iron door. Gazing through a window as the dough rises most horrifically, the burning human-like figure waves its arm amidst the inferno, & slowly takes form. This truly is a wild moment for early horror cinema!
Outside the iron doors Victor is enthusiastic, with only his pal the human skeleton as witness to his genius & success.
But when the creature is finished baking, Victor flees from it in horror, & faints on his bed. When he rouses himself, he sees the monstrosity (Charles Stanton Ogle, a popular character actor well into the 1920s) hovering over him. He faints again, falling off the bed to the floor.
His man-servant finds him on the floor & lifts him into his arms to pet his head a mite familiar if you ask me. Victor then returns home to his parents less proud than formerly.
Somehow he puts his life back together & is eager to marry Elizabeth (Mary Fuller) when lo & behold the Monster finds him.
The monster in his own way loves his creator & is jealous of Elizabeth, & horrified by himself when he first gazes into a mirror. In a woe-betide-the-day moment the Monster flees Victor's presence so as not to be seen.
But on Victor's wedding night the huge Monster returns, breaks into the house of the new bride & groom, chases Elizabeth about, & again flees causing a lot less harm than one might've expected.
In a totally bizarre ending that has surprisingly mystic qualities of self-revelation, the Monster stands before the mirror that revealed his own horror to himself, & he vanishes from the world, though his mirror reflection persists. Victor runs into the room & sees the Monster as his own reflection, until the reflection turns into Victor's own.
The Edison catalog described the ending in terms not really justified by what the film shows, & it's all better left to interpretation. And really, it is a brilliant film.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl