Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (Wildcard # 3) (movie #96)

This is a horror short from the 1890s, and a lot of people call this "the first horror movie." It's only a few seconds long, but it's done in the style of a newsreel, and it depicts the execution of Mary Stuart. The clip shows her kneeling before the executioner, who raises his blade and chops her head off, grabbing it and holding it over his head triumphantly. In the olden days, people used to gather to watch public executions, cheering and jeering when criminals "got what they deserved" (and people say society today is violent). This was a ghoulish practice, but by the 1890s,it was history, so I can't imagine the uproar this movie caused when people saw what appeared to be a woman getting her head chopped off onscreen. By this point I'm sure everyone knew the story of Mary Stuart's execution and knew it was long in the pasty, but if this was the first murder ever captured on film, I wonder how many people believed the image was true? I wonder if people reacted to these images the way they did to a movie like "The Exorcist," running from theaters in terror? It's cool to witness a part of history like this (and to see an onscreen decapitation that's over 100 year sold that's still better than most movie decapitations today).

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