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The Martyred Presidents - Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley


From an Edison film company catalog: "The scene opens with a beautiful woman who represents Columbia seated at the altar of Justice. As if from out of space there slowly appears a perfect and lifelike picture of Abraham Lincoln. The forming of the picture is first noticed by the appearance of what seems to be a mere spot on the front of the altar. This spot slowly enlarges and is focused into shape, until, to the amazement of the audience, the face of the great emancipator is clearly shown. President Lincoln's likeness is allowed to remain upon the altar just long enough for recognition, when, in the same mysterious manner that it appeared, it slowly fades and in its place their grows the picture of President Garfield. This in a like manner fades away, and again as out of the dim distance comes the picture of our great martyred President, William McKinley. The tableau is then dissolved into a picture of an assassin kneeling before the throne of Justice. Here the tableau ends, leaving an impression of mingled sorrow and sublimity upon the audience." A film in Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division

The Martyred Presidents is a 1901 American film directed by Edwin S. Porter.

Plot summary

The film, just over a minute long, is composed of two shots. In the first, a girl sits at the base of an altar or tomb, her face hidden from the camera. At the center of the altar, a viewing portal displays the portraits of three U.S. Presidents—Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, and William McKinley—each victims of List of United States presidential assassination attempts and plots.
In the second shot, which runs just over eight seconds long, an assassin kneels feet of Lady Justice.


Evocative of early magic lantern and Phantasmagoria shows, The Martyred Presidents is part of a cycle of films made by the Edison Studios to chronicle the Assassination of William McKinley in Buffalo, New York at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition.<></> An Edison catalog from the time suggests to exhibitors that The Martyred Presidents be used as a closing tableau when "...shown in connection with the funeral ceremonies of the illustrious McKinley."<></>


Category:1901 films
Category:American films
Category:English-language films
Category:Black-and-white films
Category:American silent short films
Category:Films directed by Edwin S. Porter

Thomas A. Edison Inc.

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