Frankenstein (1931): Meet the Monster | Transcript

The iconic scene in James Whale's 1931 film Frankenstein where the creature (Boris Karloff) first reveals his face is etched in cinematic history. It's a moment of suspense, horror, and a hint of pathos that sets the tone for the creature's tragic journey.
rankenstein (1931): Meet the Monster


The iconic scene in James Whale’s 1931 film Frankenstein where the creature (Boris Karloff) first reveals his face is etched in cinematic history. It’s a moment of suspense, horror, and a hint of pathos that sets the tone for the creature’s tragic journey.

In the scene, we see the creature, freshly brought to life by Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive), stumble into the laboratory, his towering figure cloaked in darkness. He cautiously approaches the doorway, his back to the camera, creating an air of anticipation and uncertainty.

Slowly, the creature turns his head, revealing his scarred, misshapen face for the first time. The camera zooms in on Karloff’s expressive eyes, conveying a mix of confusion, fear, and a glimmer of humanity. His lips curl into a grimace, not a snarl of aggression but a reflection of his inner turmoil.

The scene is masterfully shot, using light and shadow to accentuate the creature’s monstrous features while also evoking a sense of sympathy. The camera’s slow movement and Karloff’s nuanced performance create a moment of raw emotion that resonates deeply with the audience.

This reveal of the creature’s face is not just a shock tactic; it’s a pivotal moment that humanizes the creature, despite his monstrous appearance. It forces us to confront our own preconceptions about beauty and monstrosity, and it sets the stage for the creature’s struggle for acceptance and understanding in a world that fears him.

* * *


Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) sits at his table, smoking. Dr Waldman (Edward Van Sloan) paces behind him.

FRANKENSTEIN: Oh, come and sit down, Doctor. You must be patient. Do you expect perfection at once?

WALDMAN: [Banging the table, then sitting down] This creature of yours should be kept under guard! Mark my words, he will prove dangerous!

FRANKENSTEIN: Dangerous? Poor old Waldman. Have you never wanted to do anything that was dangerous? Where should we be if nobody tried to find out what lies beyond? Have you never wanted to look beyond the clouds and the stars? Or to know what causes the trees to bud, and what changes a darkness into light? [He laughs] But if you talk like that, people would call you crazy. Well, if I could discover just one of these things, what eternity is, for example, I wouldn’t care if they did think I was crazy.

WALDMAN: You’re young, my friend. Your success has intoxicated you. Wake up and look facts in the face! Here we have a fiend whose brain…

FRANKENSTEIN: Whose brain must be given time to develop. It’s a perfectly good brain, Doctor. Well, you ought to know. It came from your own laboratory.

WALDMAN: The brain that was stolen from my laboratory was a criminal brain.

Frankenstein is somewhat startled by this, but then shrugs it off.

FRANKENSTEIN: Oh, well. After all, it’s only a piece of dead tissue.

WALDMAN: Only evil can come of it. Your health will be ruined if you persist in this madness.

FRANKENSTEIN: I’m astonishingly sane, Doctor.

WALDMAN: You have created a monster, and it will destroy you!

FRANKENSTEIN: Patience, patience. I believe in this monster, as you call it. And if you don’t… well, you must leave me alone.

WALDMAN: But think of Elizabeth! Your father!

FRANKENSTEIN: Elizabeth believes in me. My father… [He chuckles, darkly] He never believes in anyone. I’ve got to experiment further. He’s only a few days old, remember. So far he’s been kept in complete darkness. Wait ’til I bring him into the light.

Frankenstein hears something. Footsteps. Slow, shambling footsteps approaching the laboratory.

FRANKENSTEIN: Here he comes. Let’s turn out the light.

Frankenstein stands and turns out the light above the table. Waldman gets up and moves closer to the door. Both men look on as…

The door of the lab opens, and a tall, hulking figure, shrouded in shadow, opens the door. But he is walking in reverse, pushing it open with his back.

The figure (Boris Karloff) turns. As the light hits his face, we see that it’s horrifying: the expansive forehead marked by a scar. Bolts protrude from his neck. And the eyes are utterly dead. Meet the Monster.


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