The Library of Congress has made available for the first time ever, the original adaptation of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Produced by the Edison Manufacturing Company in 1910, the silent film as noted by Wendi Maloney (Acquisitions Officer at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation) is a testament to “the cultural durability of Mary Shelley’s 1818 creation, whose bicentennial we celebrate this year.”
As shared by Maloney in her Library of Congress Blog, the film’s journey from creation to restoration was as epic as the early filmic storytelling itself. The value of the original print was unbeknownst to the owner. He acquired the print as part of a larger collection in the 1950s and was unaware of its monetary or cultural value until the film was included on a list of “top 10 most wanted lost films” in 1980 by the American Film Institute. The owner proudly spent years showcasing his entire silent film collection, including Frankenstein, travelling to film festivals and conventions. More than 100 years later, Frankenstein remains as an important capsule of time in film history.
After his death in 2005, the collection remained dormant. Purchased in 2014 by the Library of Congress, the original Frankenstein adaptation went through a painstaking restoration process. And good news! The film is now available online in all it’s glory, a reminder of the important work the Library of Congress does in curating our shared cultural history. You can watch it below or on the the Library of Congress website.
Was Boris Karloff the ultimate Frankenstein? Let us know what your favorite adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic tale is on Twitter, Reddit, and in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook. And if you’re a fan of classic Hollywood, be sure to check out our Silver Scream recommendations to revisit the classics that shaped the genre.