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Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

3.4
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Ratings: 3.4/10 from 799 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)

Electrocuting an Elephant (1903) on IMDb 3.4/10

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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

Country:

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 Hamlet (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Hmmmmm. Interesting.
19 October 2003 | by (Captain Nemo's Submarine) – See all my reviews

Boy, talk about a gratuitous documentary. Imagine the pre-production scene that happened!

Edison: "Hey, an elephant killed some people, LET'S ELECTROCUTE IT BEFORE CAMERA!"

"Really, Mr Edison, is it decent?"

"WHO CARES! ELECTRICITY! ZAP! ZAP! ZAP!"

Seriously, this is a very odd piece for PETA to use in their campaign for animal rights. I'm not a very PETA-person, but I'm with them on electrocuting elephants, which Edison surely should have been. This is a very disturbing piece of work, especially when you see that the shock did not kill the poor animal.


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Message Boards

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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