Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Frankenstein (1931)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Frankenstein (1931)

In James Whale's horror classic about a Monster:

  • in the opening memorable, expressionistically-filmed grave-robbing sequence, brilliant medical scientist (but slightly insane and overwrought) Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his dwarfish, bumbling, hunchbacked assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) watched a funeral, and then after the gravedigger had filled in the grave, dug it back up - to steal the newly-buried fresh male corpse and place it in a coffin for transportation - for an experiment that Frankenstein was conducting on the secrets of life
  • in the next sequence in the Goldstadt Medical College, Fritz snuck into an amphitheatre after a lecture, where two glass jars of brains were on display; he picked up the one labeled "Cerebrum - Normal Brain," but inadvertently dropped it when startled by the loud sound of a gong; the dim-witted Fritz desperately grabbed the other glass jar labeled "Dysfunctio Cerebri - Abnormal Brain"
  • during the remarkable creation sequence, the Monster's body (Boris Karloff), an incomplete, lifeless creation, was covered and stretched out in Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory on an operating table; the moveable platform with the body was raised to the open skylight at the rooftop of the tower where it could electrified by a lightning strike; after the table's descent back into the lab after jolts of lightning, Dr. Frankenstein delivered an hysterical reaction when the Monster came to life: "Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive....It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive! Oh - in the name of God. Now I know what it"
  • the first chilling appearance and unveiling of the Monster came when the door slowly swung open, revealing a dark, lumpish silhouette in the doorway in a full figure shot; the bulky figure lurched clumsily into the room with halting steps, gradually revealing a bulky head and broad back - the Monster awkwardly moved into the room by backing in!; the hulking Monster then slowly turned around, and then provided a shadowy profile in the first chilling close-up look of his blankly expressionless, tabula rasa face
First Appearance of the Monster
  • in the film's most moving symbolic sequence, Henry opened the ceiling's skylight above him, and the Monster saw sunlight for the first time and his face came alive; he slowly rose, faced the light, and pleaded and groped heaven-ward - he stretched out his long, huge, open, corpse-like, scarred hands to try and reach up and grasp the golden shaft of sunshine coming through the skylight
  • the Monster played with little eight year-old Maria (Marilyn Harris) by a lakeside, throwing flower petals in the water - but then he innocently murdered her by tossing her into the water when the petals ran out; she screamed out: " "No, you're hurting me. No!"; nonetheless, he enthusiastically threw her in the water - expecting that she, too, would float like the flower petals; she floundered and splashed in the water and quickly sank and drowned; as he staggered away from the lake, the Monster seemed to express some confusion, despair and remorse
The Monster Drowning Maria
  • the Monster approached toward Frankenstein's fiancee-bride Elizabeth (Mae Clarke) through the window of the Frankenstein mansion; she was wearing her beautiful wedding gown with a long train for their wedding day, seated - alone and helpless; she was horrified by his appearance and screamed loudly, the Monster was driven off by the screams and by Frankenstein and his servants who rushed to her aid
  • the townspeople and Henry pursued the Monster in the dark with torches; when Henry became separated from the mob, he came face to face with his hideous, angry creation on a rocky, hilltop outcropping; the Monster dragged Henry to a nearby windmill
  • in the film's finale, there was a life and death struggle in a windmill between the Monster and its creator; after Henry was thrown to the ground outside the mill, the poor, tragic Monster waved his arms and ran around in a panic when the mill was set on fire; he let out frightened, high-pitched, quavering cries; he was crushed by a falling beam in the mill tower and pinned down, apparently perishing in the blazing fire and the collapsing, incinerated structure

Grave-Robbers Dr. Henry Frankenstein and Assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye)

Fritz' Theft of an Abnormal Brain

Dr. Frankenstein's Hysterical Reaction to the Monster: "It's alive!"

The Monster Reaching for Sunlight

The Monster's Attack on Elizabeth

The Townsfolk and Henry Pursued the Monster with Torches

Monster in Flaming Windmill


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