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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 »

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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

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Documentary | Short

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Release Date:

12 January 1903 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Electrocution of an Elephant  »

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1.33 : 1
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This may have been the first death ever captured on film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in QI: Electricity (2007) See more »

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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.


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