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Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

3.4
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Ratings: 3.4/10 from 800 users  
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This is a film taken of the execution of Topsy, an elephant employed to help build Luna Park on Coney Island. She had killed three men, including a drunken spectator who fed her a cigarette... See full summary »

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Title: Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Thomas A. Edison ...
Himself
Topsy ...
Herself
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Storyline

This is a film taken of the execution of Topsy, an elephant employed to help build Luna Park on Coney Island. She had killed three men, including a drunken spectator who fed her a cigarette. Cyanide-laced carrots fed to her by park officials failed, and the ASPCA forbade a hanging. Thomas Edison, meanwhile, had been publicly killing dogs and cats with AC power to show that his DC power was more effective and less dangerous. Edison performed the execution of Topsy and captured it on film, though the brief short shows only the event, and not the background behind it. It makes a disturbing sight, particularly embedded in Errol Morris's Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999). Written by Scott Andrew Hutchins <scottandrewh@home.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Short

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Details

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Release Date:

12 January 1903 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Electrocution of an Elephant  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the very few films released by the Edison Manufacturing Company in which Thomas A. Edison played an active role in its production. See more »

Connections

Featured in Snuff: A Documentary About Killing on Camera (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

proof that humans suck
11 August 2000 | by (Columbus, Ohio) – See all my reviews

in response to the response posted earlier, i think a film like this is good evidence towards the theory that humans can be kinda dumb. yeah, the elephant killed some people, but that seems more a reaction to its situation of being captured and paraded around for slack-jawed coney-islanders. in a way, this film was the first edition of "when animals attack!" as it similarly shows the results of animals rebelling against their human captors. of course, this edison film just shows the electrocution, but the meaning is the same.

the film can be seen in its entirety in Mr. Death, as the previous guy posted, and also in a PBS documentary about the rise and fall of Coney Island.


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Recent Posts
BACK OFF. GrEmLiN-X
It wasn't Edison's idea to kill Topsy.... stokepogue2001
I was horrified by this film Localfreak
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