The Silent Horror Film, 1896-1922: Narrative, Style, Context

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Towns, Ethan Douglas Joseph




This project examines early horror films before the term "horror" was popularly used. This is done by analyzing their narrative, stylistic, and national/cultural contexts. Their fascination with mysticism over horror anchors a tension between the modern and the medieval. Their treatment of monsters is informed by authorial intent, religious myth, and cultural interpretation. They are often adapted from pre-existing works and must navigate several practical and creative challenges during this process. Restoration efforts are also necessary to preserve and update these films for public screenings and home media. Several international examples will be used to illustrate these points, including Frankenstein (United States, 1910), The Golem: How He Came into the World (Germany, 1920), and Häxan (Denmark, 1922). Contemporaneous conceptions of the supernatural, as well as early cinematic devices, helped to popularize what was considered frightening - and shaped our idea of horror films as we know them today.


Motion pictures
Silent films - Study and teaching




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Film Studies

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Theses and Dissertations

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