Frankenstein restored!

The Library of Congress just released a newly restored version of the silent film version of “Frankenstein.”

It’s certainly a different take on the story, taking liberties on the book, but not much like the Karloff version (not surprisingly). The creation of the creature was probably state-of-the-art at the time. It doesn’t hold up well – you can guess how it was done – but it’s still relatively effective. The appearance of the creature is different, of course.

It’s 13 minutes and worth the time to watch.

Thanks for linking to that!

A " L I B E R A L _ A D A P T A T I O N " indeed…

I especially like the first two intertitles. Man, that’s a damn good college.

I must admit, when I saw the “Frankenstein Goes to College” title, I immediately thought of Peter Boyle at the end of Young Frankenstein.

I notice Alfred Hitchcock’s head in the corner of the room.

I’ve been following this story all my life. When I was a kid, this film was still one of the “Lost” films. There was one image of Charles Ogle as the monster, and a description of the plot in a magazine, The Edison Kinescope. Later some stills from the film showed up, but nothing further until it turned out that a collector had a single copy of the film, badly put together out of order, and on flammable nitrate stock. And he wouldn’t let anyone conserve it. Later still he apparently relented (or he died, and his heirs did). For a time the film was for sale on DVD. After that it got posted on YouTube, as here:

Comparing the older version with the Library of Congress release, you can see that they did a helluva job of cleaning it up and somehow tightening the focus. You’d think they could use adjacent frames and computer processing to clean it up still further, eliminating the irregularities, the accidental sprocket-hole appearances, and the like (IN particular, you’d think that they could REALLY clean up the image of the letter, which persists for an awful lot of frames without moving. Just averaging the output of all those frames, you’d think, would give you an almost perfect image). But I can’t complain too much. It’s an impressive accomplishment.
As for the “liberal” adaptation, that was par for the course in the early days of cinema, where they were trying to shoehorn an entire book into about 15 minutes worth of film. You were lucky to get a few identifiable scenes in there. Have a look, sometime, at the earliest silent versions of Ben Hur or She or Dr. Jackyll and Mister Hyde – I mean the ones from BEFORE 1920.

I went to the 200th anniversary Frankenstein exhibit at the Morgan Library, where they showed the sequence of the monster’s creation. It was done by building a paper mache monster, burning it, and running the film backwards. You can see some of the bits oozing into the monster near the end.

Some of the dramatic performances of Frankenstein took just as great liberties, even when Mary Shelley was still alive.

It was 1910…the number of things in film that weren’t state of the art was a vanishingly small list.

The beginning creation scene where Frankenstein throws powders into the vat reminds me of Milton the Monster.

Is it ageist of me to say that Frankenstein looks about 20 years too old to go to college?

The actor was 36 at the time of the film’s release.

But people did go to college late sometimes back then.

Wasn’t Hamlet 30 and a college student?

I dunno about you guys but I wasn’t really into it.

I mean, the camera never moved from a medium shot and wasn’t dynamic at all. The monster-building sequence was entirely too long and could have been cut in half…jeez who edited this thing? The acting from Frankenstein left a lot to be desired…he should hire a new acting coach. I also really disagreed with the way Frankenstein’s bride was portrayed because, c’mon, could she BE any more of a witless damsel in distress? I guarantee you a man directed this and probably never even showed this to an all-female test audience. And can we talk about the ending? The monster just disappears into the mirror? They never established the mirror’s magic abilities earlier in the movie so the reveal came out of nowhere. Where’s the buildup?

2.0/10…I’d wait for this one to get in Redbox before seeing.

Not to mention all the smoke wafting downward. No matter- I thought it was clever of them.

Not to mention Zeppo Marx in Horsefeathers.

Yeah, and it was like they never even heard of CGI. Pffft.

The monster WAS Frankenstein all along. When he was redeemed by the love of a good woman, it disappeared. He saw himself as the monster in the mirror, briefly, and then the image changed to his good self. The monstrous part of him had been banished.

Remarkably clever, I’d say. Film special effects were rather new, given that commercial movie-making had only been around for about 16 years when this was filmed–the first Kinetoscope parlor opened in New York in 1894. The 1900 “Joan of Arc” was an SFX extravaganza for the time (although it bears some resemblance to “Monty Python on the Holy Grail” to my modern eye), but its effects were mostly film upgrades to stage effects. It’s possible that the “Frankenstein” sequence is the earliest use of film reversal to produce such an effect; perhaps one of our resident film historians could say.

Look to your hat, sir. I believe a strong wind may be gusting above your head. :slight_smile:

Not really. The Lumiere Brothers did it in 1896 (I would have bet on George Melies),

Not exactly what I meant. That was reversing a film sequence, but not to produce an illusion of something growing or forming. It was just showing the action in reverse, not using the trick to make it look like something different was happening. (Though no doubt it was amazing enough in its time.)