A production still from the 1910 film Frankenstein of the monster played by Charles Ogle

Frankenstein (1910)

Frankenstein was one of the first films ever made and not by coincidence. The man who invented so many things for America, Thomas Edison, is also credited with inventing the movie camera. His studio, Edison Studios, was not run but owned by Thomas Edison and would continue to live up to Edison’s name with ground breaking special effects on its over one thousand films, before they closed their door, operating from 1896-1919. Frankenstein was no exception with its historic innovations in film.

The film doesn’t completely follow the book and mostly focuses on the creation of the monster and then the monster confronting Dr. Frankenstein in the end. The creation of the monster isn’t quite the same ether. Instead of being put together by body parts, the creature is born in a cauldron with a mix of chemicals. This is where ingenuity comes to life with one of the first special effects. A dummy was burned in the cauldron until nothing was left. The footage was then reversed to create the effect that the creature was being formed peace by peace until it made a full living creature.

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The monster, played by Charles Ogle, created a stage presence of sympathy as he stalks and haunts Dr. Frankenstein back to his home. There, we find the monster jealous of Frankenstein’s bride, hungry for the doctor’s affection. This is a loose adaptation would be a common model for film adaptations of books in the early 1900s.

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