3.2/10
1,120
33 user 2 critic

Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

The execution of Topsy, a female elephant, in a publicity stunt advertising the opening of Luna Park on Coney Island. Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a ... See full summary »

Star:

Reviews

Photos

Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Frankenstein (1910)
Short | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Frankenstein, a young medical student, trying to create the perfect human being, instead creates a misshapen monster. Made ill by what he has done, Frankenstein is comforted by his fiancée ... See full summary »

Director: J. Searle Dawley
Stars: Mary Fuller, Charles Ogle, Augustus Phillips
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A man, objecting to being filmed, comes closer and closer to the camera lens until his mouth is all we see. Then he opens wide and swallows camera and cinematographer. He steps back, chews, and grins.

Director: James Williamson
Stars: Sam Dalton
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A black and white short in which a moving rear facing camera documents people running towards it on the street.

Director: Gabriel Veyre
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A gardener is watering his flowers, when a mischievous boy sneaks up behind his back, and puts a foot on the water hose. The gardener is surprised, and looks into the nozzle to find out why... See full summary »

Director: Louis Lumière
Stars: François Clerc, Benoît Duval
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A train is leaving a railway station at the outskirts of Jerusalem. From the very end of the train a barren, rocky landscape is seen, and some ruins of very old buildings,. Five men walk ... See full summary »

Directors: Auguste Lumière, Alexandre Promio
The Kiss (1896)
Short | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Two people kiss.

Director: William Heise
Stars: May Irwin, John C. Rice
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A shot of people walking on The Leeds Bridge.

Director: Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Annabelle (Whitford) Moore performs one of her popular dance routines. She uses her dance steps and her long, flowing skirts to create a variety of visual patterns.

Directors: William K.L. Dickson, William Heise
Stars: Annabelle Moore
Short | Action | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A group of bandits stage a brazen train hold-up, only to find a determined posse hot on their heels.

Director: Edwin S. Porter
Stars: Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, A.C. Abadie, George Barnes
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Auguste Lumière directs four workers in the demolition of an old wall at the Lumière factory. One worker is pressing the wall inwards with a jackscrew, while another is pushing it with a ... See full summary »

Director: Louis Lumière
Stars: Auguste Lumière
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A woman being fitted for shoes exposes her ankle to the shoe clerk, who is intrigued. He kisses her, but her chaperone hits him with her umbrella.

Director: Edwin S. Porter
Stars: Edward Boulden
Short | Adventure | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Using every known means of transportation, several savants from the Geographic Society undertake a journey through the Alps to the Sun which finishes under the sea.

Director: Georges Méliès
Stars: Georges Méliès, Fernande Albany, Jeanne d'Alcy
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Topsy ...
Herself
Edit

Storyline

The execution of Topsy, a female elephant, in a publicity stunt advertising the opening of Luna Park on Coney Island. Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a drunken spectator who burned the tip of her trunk with a cigar. She was sold to Sea Lion Park in 1902 which was then sold to new owners who turned it into Luna Park. After they decided they could no longer handle her, the owners of Luna Park announced they would hang Topsy, leading to an outcry by the ASPCA. The owners then decided they would electrocute the elephant, with a backup plan of feeding her cyanide-laced carrots and strangling her with a cable. Written by Rob O

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Short

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Release Date:

12 January 1903 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Electrocution of an Elephant  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This may have been the first death ever captured on film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in QI: Electricity (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Depressing
17 October 2003 | by (Cleveland, OH) – See all my reviews

This film is a kind of mixture between a snuff film and an animal experimentation film. I suppose the film is somewhat interesting due largely to its age and its gruesome subject matter, but that's really about it. Edison made some other morbid films, with people being sent to the electric chair, hanged, shot, etc. I think these were reenactments, but the subject matter is the same. For this reason I don't think Edison was trying to tout his DC current as much as he was trying to cash in on audience blood-lust. As an early film buff, I just had to see it. But one time was enough for me. NOTE: For the morbidly curious, this film is available on Kino's wonderful "The Movies Begin" DVD box set. There is an easter egg on one of the disks that allows you to access this film, along with a few "execution" films and films considered adult-themed at the time.


20 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page