26 December 2007 | Spondonman
Birth of a Notion
Over the years I've watched and enjoyed loads of early Biograph and Vitagraph one and two reelers, but this was my first time with Edison's take on Frankenstein which I understand was a lost film for decades. A century later and it's on YouTube for all, such is progress! At this time Film was changing from a collection of unconnected images to having a coherent narrative - pre WW1 many exhibitors had to use lecturers to help explain to the audience the film they were watching delightedly. In movies nowadays when cameras aren't usually static for more than a second but deliberately shaking or flying off in all directions I could sometimes do with plot explanations too - if I could be bothered.
The narrative in Frankenstein is crushingly simple: man goes to college, creates a monster, which in the end can't live with its evil self. The trick shot creation scenes hold up well, less so Frankenstein's excited peeping in at it happening through a tiny trap window. There's nice tinting for the most part, although the blue shots were very blue indeed! The final mirror scene was a pleasant surprise, although because they used to churn these shorts out from start to finish in less than 3 days I wonder if a heavy message was intended. And the ugly monstrous horror reminded me of the rock band Kiss.
Well worth spending 13 minutes sampling a slice of movie history.