The Execution of Mary Stuart (1895)

The Execution of Mary Stuart (1895)

While the first film cameras were still being developed, photographers and directors were beginning to experiment with the medium.

Georges Méliès, who would arguably be the biggest producer of special effects in the early 20th Century, was one of the early adopters of a method called the "stop trick", where the camera would stop rolling film, the scene would continue to move, and then the camera would continue rolling. This allowed for objects to appear, disappear or be substituted during the stop.

It is thought the film to inspire Méliès, and the first film to use special effects, was an 18 second clip produced by Thomas Edison and directed by Alfred Clark. The Execution of Mary Stuart sees a male actor playing the Queen of Scots and lay his head on the block. The camera stops rolling to allow the actor to be substituted with a mannequin, before the head is chopped off.

Méliès would arguably go on to refine and perfect the technique as one of his impressive repertoire of effects, but Clark's The Execution of Mary Stuart remains the original.

You can watch The Execution of Mary Stuart below.

If you're here because of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2021, please stop by the theme reveal page which has a full list of all films used in the challenge.


  1. That is awesome! Thanks for sharing the video. It's amazing the creative effects they came up with back in the day.

  2. Good grief all saved and restored for viewing on youtube.

  3. Well, I think it must have been quite impressive at the time.

    The Old Shelter - The Great War

  4. This is fun! I have a Victorian enthusiast group I belong too on Facebook that I'll have to share this movie with. Yes it is American made and Mary Queen of Scots was before it, but the 1895 date is perfect.
    What nice little treat you have unearthed here!

    Tim Brannan, The Other Side: 2021: The A to Z of Monsters


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