The Execution of Mary Stuart
Screen capture of a digitized version of the film
Directed byAlfred Clark
Produced byThomas Edison
StarringRobert Thomae
CinematographyWilliam Heise
Distributed byEdison Manufacturing Company
Release date
August 28, 1895
Running time
18 seconds
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
The earliest known use of the stop trick.

The Execution of Mary Stuart is a short film produced in 1895. The film depicts the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. It is the first known film to use special effects, specifically the stop trick.

Production and content

The 18-second-long film was produced by Thomas Edison and directed by Alfred Clark and may have been the first film in history to use trained actors, as well as the first to use editing for the purposes of special effects. The film shows a blindfolded Mary (played by Robert L. Thomas, a male actor playing the role of a woman, following a long theatrical tradition) being led to the execution block. The executioner raises his axe and an edit occurs during which the actor is replaced by a mannequin. The mannequin's head is chopped off and the executioner holds it in the air as the film ends.


This film is in the public domain.

See also