1910 frankenstein film restored

Library of Congress

Oldest ‘Frankenstein’ film ever made finally restored after more than 100 years

You can watch the 13-minute classic in all its gruesome glory.


Joseph Knoop


Posted on Nov 18, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 1:21 am CDT

Horror fans are always looking forward to the next big trend, but there’s just as much reason to look backward, and the Library of Congress has been looking quite a ways back. In a blog post for the Library of Congress, Mike Mashon, a film expert and head of the Moving Image Section at the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, revealed that after more than 100 years, an original copy of the 1910 Frankenstein film adaptation had been acquired and properly restored, shedding a new light on a pivotal piece of cinema history.

Even better, you can watch the entire 13-minute film for free.

Produced by the Edison Manufacturing Company (yes, that Edison), the film reel’s longtime owner gave preservationists like Mashon a hard time, which explains why we’re only just now getting a restored version.

Alois F. “A” Detlaff of Cudahy, Wisc. was that difficult owner. According to Mashon’s blog post, Detlaff acquired the reel back in the ’50s but wasn’t aware of its significance until the film ended up on the American Film Institute’s “top 10 most wanted lost films” list in 1980.

1910 frankenstein film restored 2
Library of Congress

Detlaff, who seemed to be a colorful character—he apparently enjoyed dressing up as Father Time at film conventions—was incredibly protective of the film reel, although certainly not above using it to boost his profile and make a buck.

But not even the president of the Academy of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could get him to relinquish the reel for proper preservation. Detlaff eventually copied the film onto DVDs so he could sell them at conventions.

Since Detlaff’s death back in 2005, that lower quality DVD rip has been the only version available online. After some coordination with other film institutes to replace damaged and missing segments, the film has been properly restored to its full glory. It even includes a brand new score from Donald Sosin, a famous silent film composer.

oldest frankenstein film restored
Library of Congress

You can watch the 13-minute film in its entirety at the bottom of the Library’s blog post. Make sure to peep the incredibly unsettling bit where Dr. Frankenstein gives birth to the monster via some sort of contained oven, slowly reassembling his limbs and flesh in a sequence that would put some Walking Dead zombies to shame.

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*First Published: Nov 18, 2018, 4:00 pm CST