Monday, April 11, 2011

Thomas Edison's Frankenstein

For those at St. Paul's who were in the adult forum on Sunday morning, we had an interesting discussion about the "Valley of Dry Bones" reading from Ezekiel. As an example, John (and later myself in the sermon by happenstance) made reference to the reading's influence on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

John made reference to the outcry over the Thomas Edison 1910 silent film that a lot of people thought was blasphemous, particularly the creation scene. For those interested, the film is seen here in its entirety (all 15 minutes). Being a silent film buff, I enjoyed the discussion.

The scene with the flames when the creature is created was actually filmed and shown backwards, which is what produces the really creepy effect. Given that this was probably the first film moving film most people had ever seen, one can understand the outcry. It is pretty wild, even by today's standards.

This film was thought to have been lost for many years until it was released recently by the guy who happened to own the only extant copy. Sadly, the musical score that would have been used has been lost. Whoever remastered this film decided to add an "old timey" sound track, but likely it would have been played live on a organ and was probably much creepier. Even with the modern sound track, this film is surprisingly powerful.

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