The film depicts Mary Stuart (Mary I of Scotland) getting her head chopped off by an axe. The executioner later takes the head and holds it up to the air.
Like it says under "Plot", this film only shows Mary getting her head chopped off, but this is still one of the most important films from the early days of film, and there are alot of reasons why. To make a shortened list:
- Supposedly, It was first film that used trained actors.
- First movie with a man playing a woman.
- One of the first films that used camera effects.
- Most likely the first film showing something macabre like this.
It is obvious we need to thank the films producer, Thomas Edison, (who produced alot of films around 1890's and early 1900's) and director, Alfred Clark, for this piece of history.
To achieve the effect of chopping her head off, they used the simple technique of cutting and changing the actor playing Mary to a dummy. Today, no one will believe that it's real, the cut is very obvious, even though the surviving print is very poor quality. But you need to remember that this was the year 1895, and I understand quite clearly why people thought that it was real. I'm sure it looked even more real to them 'cause of the fact that it was made to be watched through a Kinetoscope, an old film viewing device where you individually watch the film through a window inside of a cabinet. I have to admit that still to this day, it actually looks really good. Not real, but there's something about it I like. And it's pretty brutal for what it is.
A piece of history like this should be watched by everyone who likes film, television, or just moving pictures. If you are interested in seeing where cruel pictures started too, look no further. Don't believe some of the ridiculous comments on IMDb, just watch it. You obviously have 1 minute of your life to spare.
You can find this movie online.