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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A somewhat interesting re-enactment.

4/10
Author: xfile1971 from Northbrook, IL, USA
19 October 2005

Of course, it would've been dangerous and extremely difficult to film actual events during the Spanish-American War. So the Edison Manufacturing Company did the next best thing by re-enacting an event for this short.

Even though it wasn't "real", I can only imagine how disturbing it would have been back in 1898 to see people being lined up and killed. Due to its gritty, documentary-like feel, it is still somewhat unsettling to view even today. This short has been preserved by the Library of Congress and I viewed it as one of the unadvertised bonus shorts found in the DVD boxed set of "The Movies Begin - A Treasury of Early Cinema, 1894-1913".

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Interesting Early Example Of How Movies Can Blur the Line Between Reality & Illusion

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
2 November 2005

This staged war feature - grim and a bit unsettling in itself - is an interesting early example of the power that movies have to blur the line between reality and illusion. It was based on reports of similar factual events, but the movie itself was staged. It looks quite realistic, though, especially by the standards of its day, and it would not have been surprising if its original audiences interpreted it as a factual record.

The footage depicts a stylishly dressed Spanish officer leading a firing squad in the execution of a small group of Cuban freedom fighters. There seems to be little doubt that it was intended to influence public opinion in favor of the war against Spain, and as such it would have been one of many such efforts from the press and other influential institutions of the day.

Many history books record the efforts at the time of the Hearst press and others in support of war, but moving picture footage like this - even if it is only a fictional recreation - is much more likely to be seen by future generations, in addition to whatever influence it may have had in its own time.

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Another military reenactment

2/10
Author: Thomas (filmreviews@web.de) from Berlin, Germany
13 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

And probably one of the most brutal films from the 19th century, but also one of the most realistic I guess. We see a couple of soldiers who lead a group of hostages that were taken into captivity earlier on (when the film wasn't running yet). The dramatic highlight of this under 30-second short film is when the arrested are ordered to line up against a wall, with their backs showing into the direction of their captors. Consequently they are executed in cold blood. It depicts the violence and cruelty very accurately, from a time when combat and war was much more present than it is today, thankfully. Not really one I'd be interested to watch again. You'd have to be a bit of a sadist for that.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A snuff film if there ever was one

4/10
Author: cricket30 from United States
14 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You may remember from my review of the 1896 Edison offering, LONE FISHERMAN, that I found compelling evidence establishing that allegedly fictional offering as film history's first snuff pic. Edison, the guy who filmed Dumbo being electrocuted on purpose--complete with flames shooting out of the chained pachyderm's feet--in order to win the contract for Osing-Osing's death chair, and who hung out with future Nazi enablers such as Henry Ford, always had a nose for the sick, macabre, and the quintessentially American. What could be more red-white-and-blue than marching four poor souls with their wrists tied into a courtyard, making them face the wall, and having some bozo with a drawn sword race around till ordering a quartet of riflemen to put bullets into the backs of heads four feet in from of them? (Edison probably gave Insurgent #2 from the left highest marks for his death flop, what with the leg kick and all). In its day, this short would cause only the richest of taxpayers to puke up their poached eggs over the waste of the price of four bullets (but Ford's buddy Adolph would get much more bang for his killing jar buck a few decades later, thanks to Edison docs such as SHOOTING CAPTURED INSURGENTS).

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