This early docudrama shows Auburn Prison and recreates the electrocution of Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President McKinley of the United States. Some versions offer additional footage at...
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This early docudrama shows Auburn Prison and recreates the electrocution of Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President McKinley of the United States. Some versions offer additional footage at the beginning which shows McKinley on the day of his assassination followed by scenes from his funeral.Written by
Thomas McWilliams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This print is featured as an unadvertised bonus to Kino's magnificent collection "The Movies Begin: A Treasury of Early Cinema" in the second volume, namely "The European Pioneers." The reason they call this an unadvertised bonus is because the print survives in a most blurred condition, thus it is below Kino's standard quality.
This three minute silent feature shows a staged execution of President McKinely's assassin, Leon Czolgosz (pronounced Zol-gOs). While not really a story of any sort, it does contain more than one scene and is hence somewhat ambitious for 1901. The footage opens up a panning shot of a train and then of Auburn Prison (made the day of the execution) before cutting to a blatantly fake prison set where several guards lead Czolgosz out of his cell and off screen. There is then a third cut to the final scene, where the assassin is strapped into the electric chair and the current is turned on. Czolgosz heaves his chest and falls limp.
Reportedly, Edwin Porter had already asked permission to shoot the actual execution, knowing it would make a big profit, but was denied. The only thing left to do, then, was to trick the audiences into thinking this cheap reenactment was the real thing. Still, the fact they took the panoramic footage the day of the execution shows they were still striving as much as possible to be real--and from what I've also read, footage of President McKinely's funeral train was also made. Presumably, the shot of the train at the beginning is the said footage.
(Note: I hope to review all the unadvertised bonuses. There are 10. This is the sixth).
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