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As Ithers See Us Mary, Queen of Scots in Cinema

IF ROBERt the Bruce is the most famous King of Scots, then his descendent Mary Stuart is surely the most famous Queen. Certainly she is the most represented Scotish queen in cinematic history: unlike Robert, Mary has featured in dozens of adaptations over the decades, with some of the most celebrated actors, directors, and screenwriters presenting their interpretation of the tragic monarch.

Silent Treatments

The first depiction of Mary in cinema was one of the very first examples of the new medium in the world. The rather prosaically-titled The Execution of Mary Stuart was an experimental early short, only iteen seconds in length, and ilmed at thomas Edison’s laboratory. Edison contracted Alfred Clark to direct, and hired trained actors to portray the cast – which may be the first example of a film using actual performers. It was certainly the first example of using editing for special efects: the ilmmakers utilised the simple stop trick to replace Mary (played by Mrs. Robert L. Thomas) with a mannequin before the Executioner’s axe descends. The axeman then cleaves “Mary’s” head clean of her body, grasps the head by its hair, and raises it to the camera in grim solemnity. Crude by modern standards, but totally revolutionary for the 19th Century, and many contemporary viewers were convinced the actor had actually been killed.

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About iScot Magazine

Celebrate good times c’mon! iScot celebrates its 4th birthday and what better way than a bumper 136 page cornucopia of articles, short stories, science, history, movies commentary, puzzles and much much more