Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 3.4/10 from 922 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 2 critic

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 »

0Check in

Celebrate IMDb's 25th Anniversary with Photos We Love

IMDb turns 25 on October 17! To celebrate, we put together a gallery of some of our favorite movie, TV, and event photos from the last 25 years.

See the Photos We Love

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

list image
a list of 22 titles
created 22 Aug 2012
list image
a list of 543 titles
created 29 Jun 2013
a list of 992 titles
created 26 Sep 2013
a list of 5586 titles
created 20 May 2014
a list of 34 titles
created 9 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

Electrocuting an Elephant (1903) on IMDb 3.4/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Electrocuting an Elephant.
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A group of people are standing in a straight line along the platform of a railway station, waiting for a train, which is seen coming at some distance. When the train stops at the platform, ... See full summary »

Directors: Auguste Lumière, Louis Lumière
Short | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 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
Lily and Jim (1997)
Animation | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Lily and Jim are interviewed about their disastrous blind date.

Director: Don Hertzfeldt
Stars: Robert May, Karin Anger
Ryan (2004)
Documentary | Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The movie talks about the life of Ryan Larkin, a gifted Canadian animator of the late '60s and the early '70s.

Director: Chris Landreth
Stars: Ryan Larkin, Chris Landreth, Felicity Fanjoy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Director: Maya Deren
Stars: Talley Beatty
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A young priest taking over the parish at Ambricourt tries to fulfill his duties even as he fights a mysterious stomach ailment.

Director: Robert Bresson
Stars: Claude Laydu, Nicole Ladmiral, Jean Riveyre
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A woman returning home falls asleep and has vivid dreams that may or may not be happening in reality. Through repetitive images and complete mismatching of the objective view of time and space, her dark inner desires play out on-screen.

Directors: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid
Stars: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid
Four Seasons (1975)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The last collaboration of Artavazd Peleshian and cinematographer Mikhail Vartanov is a film-essay about Armenia's shepherds, about the contradiction and the harmony between man and nature, scored to Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Director: Artavazd Peleshian
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 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
Baby's Dinner (1895)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A baby is seated at a table between its cheerful parents, Auguste and Marguerite Lumière. While the father is feeding the baby with a spoon, the mother is pouring coffee into her cup. The ... See full summary »

Director: Louis Lumière
Stars: Auguste Lumière, Mrs. Auguste Lumiere, Andrée Lumière
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
Director: Maya Deren
Stars: Rita Christiani, Maya Deren, Anaïs Nin
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A most interesting picture at the Pan-American Exposition. The picture was taken from the north side of the Electric Tower. It presents the most perfect and diversified views of the ... See full summary »

Director: Edwin S. Porter


Credited cast:
Topsy ...


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


Documentary | Short

Parents Guide:




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  »

Did You Know?


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


Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

...And They Created A Monster But I'm Not Talking About the Elephant!
1 May 2010 | by (São Paulo, Brazil) – See all my reviews

This is one of those old films that I even know it existed until the day I make a strange research on internet about filmed deaths, and the execution of Topsy, an elephant, happened to be one of the oldest executions captured by a camera. Today you can watch and complain that the film it's almost not watchable because of it's theme and because it's very difficult to see something, the movie is too old.

But what Thomas Edison were thinking in filming such atrocity? First, let me explain what this short is about. Topsy was a domesticated elephant with the Forepaugh Circus at Coney Island's and she killed three men. Fearing that Topsy would be a threat to everybody a bunch of people decided to execute her, but they wanted to do it in the harmless possible way. So, they opted for the electrocution. The rest become this movie, not much impacting nowadays but it created something more horrible than everything you can think of.

The mankind didn't evolved after this movie, it only went downhill in every single aspect of its capacity of destruction. I mean, after this movie it seemed that animal killing was allowed and many so-called filmmakers started to film horrific acts of violence towards animals. Hollywood movies, Foreign movies, documentaries, and sometimes even in the news you can see things like that. I really think that this film pointed the way on how human race would follow. The recent images of today's films are far more shocking than Edison's film. For instance, the documentary "Death on a Factory Farm" has unspeakable scenes (OK, it was a denounce against farmers who are animal abusers and it was used in a trial to convict such people), or the infamous horror movie "Cannibal Holocaust" who featured several unnecessary animal deaths (By the way, except for that scenes, this is an incredible and great horror movie). There are more disgusting and shocking and gratuity examples of that.

Even for not being so striking now, it's almost impossible not fell sorry for the poor elephant, a human being that just wanted to live. Now: it's a bad movie or it's good movie? Well, I don't have a opinion formed about it except that it was a unnecessary waste of time for Edison and the people who helped making this short. To me it was just an experience in seeing a movie made in 1903 and see how things were in that time. Have we changed? Think about it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
It wasn't Edison's idea to kill Topsy.... stokepogue2001
I was horrified by this film Localfreak
murder on film ttommy90
Discuss Electrocuting an Elephant (1903) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page