Long thought lost, Edison's Frankenstein starring Charles Ogle can now be appreciated by
all horror movie fans.
(1909/Edison) 957 feet. (UK). 975 feet (US). BW. Silent.
US. Released 15th. Mar. 1910. Credits: Dir: J. Searle Dawley. From the novel by Mary
Shelley "Frankenstein-Or The Modern Prometheus". Cast: Charles Stanton Ogle, Augustus Phillipps, Mary
Long thinking that there was no hope in being able
to view Edison's 1910 version of FRANKENSTEIN, LS Video advertised a sneak preview of the
film stating "clips only", amongst other titles as part of their "Floor
Sweepings" collection. I duly sent my $9.95 and waited. After a month or two,
allowing for conversion to PAL, I sat back and watched three minutes of the film in its
original tinted colour pass before me. The fascination of watching a pre-Karloff
Frankenstein monster on screen is almost beyond description.
The first film adaptation of the
classic tale consists of four scenes on one reel.
The full synopsis is carried as:
Henry Frankenstein bids farewell to his father and sweetheart at the Frankenstein home and
sits absorbed with the mysteries of life and death. He is convinced that he has found a
way to create the most perfect human being, but ,to his horror, he creates a ghastly
abhorrent monster. Frankenstein rushes from the
room and falls in a faint to the floor. When he has recovered, Frankenstein returns home,
but the monster, not wanting to be parted from his creator, appears on Frankenstein's wedding night and
enters the bride's chamber. The creature stands, arms outstretched, before a full length
mirror. Gradually the creature disappears leaving only its reflection. A moment later
Frankenstein appears and stands in front of the mirror and sees his reflection as that of
the monsters. The power of love causes the hideous reflection to also vanish then
Frankenstein and his bride embrace.
What was offered by LS Video is the eye-popping creation of the monster in a boiling
cauldron of chemicals. Slowly flesh develops around the boney skeletal frame in one of the
most arresting scenes of the genre. Also available is an appearence of the monster at the
A full print was discovered during 1976 in the hands of a
private collector, I believe that film preservationists have now managed to obtain the
copy and restore it. Now it is available widely on DVD.
After much speculation, Charles Ogle, a member of Edison's stock company of actors, was
assigned the role. He designed his own make-up which was often the case as studios rarely
bothered to hire specialised make-up artists. The result is a monstrous and extremely
effective visage born directly from Mary Shelley's novel.
Mary Shelley explained that she based the name of Frankenstein on the American
statesman Benjamin Franklin who conducted experiments with electricity when it was first