Horror Education of the Week: Edison’s ‘Frankenstein’

frankbanner

In the summer of 1816, Mary Shelley and her lover, Percy, visited the poet Lord Byron at his home in Geneva. Storms kept them inside and there they read ghost stories from a book Byron had titled Fantasmagoriana, ou Recueil d’Histoires d’Apparitions de Spectres, Revenans, Fantomes, etc.; traduit de l’allemand, par un Amateur translated by Jean Baptiste Benoit Eyries from German to French.

Byron then proposed a challenge – for each of the guests to write their own story.

Mary Shelley wrote in the third edition of Frankenstein:

“When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. . . . I saw–with shut eyes, but acute mental vision–I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous Creator of the world.”

While the most iconic face of Frankstein’s monster is Boris Karloff, the first Frankenstein film in the US was Thomas Edison’s adaptation in 1910.

– In this 16-minute film made by the Edison Studios, the Monster is created in a cauldron of chemicals.

– The movie was thought to have been lost for a very long time.

– In 1963, a copy of The Edison Kinetogram was found that contained several stills and a plot description.

– A Wisconsin film collector, Alois F. Dettlaff, made a 35 mm preservation copy made in the late 1970s of the film from his collection.

– A restored edition was released in 2010 along with a novel Edison’s Frankenstein, which was written by Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr.

– The same year a 100th anniversary edition was made, creating new title cards that followed Mary Shelley’s story more closely.

  • djblack1313

    Lauren, did i miss your ALIEN 3, ALIEN 4 (if you are doing them) and your PROMETHEUS education articles? i hope not! :)

    • Lauren Taylor

      Sorry, there won’t be 3 or 4 but I am hoping I’ll have Prometheus next week!!!

      • djblack1313

        Lauren, i’m perfectly happy with no write ups on ALIEN 3 or 4! LOL. i look forward to your PROMETHEUS write up!

        • Lauren Taylor

          Never was a fan of how 3 turned out. I liked the concept, of course, of the original script and while you can enjoy aspects of it, I guess, I just can’t pick it apart and have my mind blown much like the original first two do to me.

          And as I stated before numerous times, I LOVED Prometheus and I cannot wait for my dvd to arrive this week. I am going to eat it up.
          So many themes and ideas in it to present!

  • Goretorium

    Study up, just in time for halloween!

    @Goretorium
    http://bit.ly/goretorium

  • MachetAY

    Always a great write up. Ridley Scott hosts a great show on Mary Shelly called Icons of Science Fiction. Any chance you’ll be covering any Hammer horror soon?

    • Lauren Taylor

      I am sure I will get to something Hammer soon enough! :) THANK YOU!

  • Mr.Mirage

    Ms. Taylor,
    Thanks! While I knew pretty much everything here, the fact is the entirety of film history seems to stop for most folks at Psycho. Your addition is IMHO a desperately missing piece in most horror fans’ collection.
    Then again, I am not a “fan,” I am a Film Geek (specialty: horror).

    Nicely done. Inclusion of the film most excellent!
    MM

    • Lauren Taylor

      Wow. Thank you so much. I am happy to throw some info out each week. I know sometimes (and most of the time for a lot of people) it’s stuff they already knew, however if I reach one person with some new info – then I am a very happy girl!