I am currently working on a list for an infographic of films, influential horror films since the beginning. There is a lot of history to not just horror films, but film and the art of. Now, since I have not watched every single film ever made especially those early ones, I am mostly using lists from various sites and comparing them. Many of the films mentioned are found throughout every list I come across. One particular one that stood out was the film that put the monster in film.
A silent film from 1910 that adapted a short version of famous novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It was produced and made by Edison Production, yes that same Edison, so I had to watch this. The first time I watched an adaptation of the novel was a very long time ago and that film was directed by Kenneth Branagh. This version had Robert De Niro portray the monster and Branagh as Doctor Frankenstein. I remember it was late at night while I was channel surfing for something to watch, and not wanting to go to bed. I landed on the film just as it was starting. Before watching this film all of my interpretations of Frankenstein were only of the Halloween kind which envisioned the re-imagined green and tall iconic monster. It was also years later that I discovered the rich history in this single recognizable character dating back to the novel, but this film also opened the path for more imaginative story-telling. The kind of imaginations that paint pictures to keep us up at night.
The silent film is only about 13 minutes long and in black in white with no dialogue of course. The version I watched is available on youtube and that one had music attached to it. It was pretty interesting watching this version as I had already watched another and read the novel. The amount of emotion played out by each of the actors really helps the audience envision what they are feeling. This is especially needed due to the lack of audio from the characters which is understandable seeing the date the film was produced. While watching there are a couple of scenes that gave me an eerie feeling. The costumes were standard, for the regular folk, at least. The monster did look gruesome as if put together in a horrible way. I especially liked the scene showing the creation of the monster. Although, one could also see him just as a very pale man with long hair, torn clothes, and misshapen body. Frankenstein actually used ingredients in some sort of boiler room and cooked himself a monstrosity. For the time I wonder if the kinds of effects they created were a standard among other films. I can truly say that this film is a stepping-off point for horror story-telling in film.