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Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

3.4
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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

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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>

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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

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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

Referenced in QI: Electricity (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

PR Stunt
20 February 2003 | by (Central Coast, CA) – See all my reviews

I would like to just point out that the main reason Edison zapped 'ole Topsy was to show the dangers of AC and scare the public into wanting DC power, which would make him filthy stinking rich. It was just a bonus that the elephant killed some idiot. Also, Westinghouse wouldn't sell an AC generator to Coney Island because he knew that was what it would be used for so they had to buy one from somewhere is South America. Interesting don't you think?


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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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