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:

  • the opening memorable, expressionistically-filmed grave-robbing sequence of brilliant medical scientist (but slightly insane and overwrought) Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his dwarfish, bumbling, hunchbacked assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) watching a funeral, and then after the gravedigger had filled in the hole, digging 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
  • the next sequence in the Goldstadt Medical College, where 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."
  • the remarkable creation sequence in which the Monster's body (Boris Karloff), an incomplete, lifeless creation 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 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
  • the moving symbolic sequence, when 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 scene in which the Monster played with a little eight year-old girl Maria (Marilyn Harris) by a lakeside, throwing flower petals in the water - but innocently murdered her by tossing her in 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 sequence of the Monster's approach 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's and Henry's pursuit of 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
  • the film's finale - the 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


Fritz' Theft of an Abnormal Brain

"It's alive!"

The Monster Reaching for Sunlight

Attack on Elizabeth

Townsfolk's and Henry's Pursuit of the Monster with Torches

Monster in Flaming Windmill


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