One of the fascinating things about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is that it has two lives. The book is a Romantic classic and a Gothic masterpiece; it is also intricately narrated and darkly beautiful. It has been widely read and has been in print since it was first published in 1818. The other life of the book has made it a part of our popular culture. This other life was given to if by Hollywood in 1931 when James Whale directed his film version for Universal. This was not the first time the novel was adapted; it was actually first filmed by Thomas Edison’s film company in 1910. However, Whale’s film was groundbreaking for several reasons: it established the horror film as an important Hollywood genre and it introduced the iconic figure of the Monster. Played by horror legend Boris Karloff, the Monster was unlike anything anyone had ever seen on screen. The face of Karloff’s monster—square headed, bolt-necked—has become an icon of American popular culture. And it has inspired seemingly endless rip-offs and spoofs, including the great homage/parody Young Frankenstein (1974). But he was not the Monster from the novel.
The assignment is for you to watch the 1910 version of Frankenstein (see the posted link). As you will see, the film is a fascinating silent-film version of the novel made by Thomas Edison’s film company. In a short reaction paper (2-3 pages) discuss your viewing of the film and how it relates to Mary Shelley’s novel. Also look up and define the following terms and describe how they relate to the novel.
Watch The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). In 2-3 pages, answer the following:
How does the Monster in this famous film compare to the Monster in the novel? Compare the scenes of education in each (“Hermit cottage” in the film; chapters 13-16 in the novel.)