Execution, Cinema, and Carceral Fantasies
Chapter 1: “Tableaux Mort: Execution, Cinema, and Carceral Fantasies” explores the nature of the carceral imaginary within the context of the early execution films, Galvanism and the electrical wonder show, and the Phantasmagoria. I use the contested cultural meanings of electricity and capital punishment as suggested in The Execution of Czolgoszto discern how electrocution represented in examples as diverse as an episode of Harry Houdini’s Master Mystery series (1919), a fictional reconstruction of Ruth Snyder’s 1928 electrocution in Picture Snatcher(Lloyd Bacon, 1933), and The Green Mile(Frank Darabont, 1999). These films satisfy a psychic impulse to witness punishment and incarceration while illuminating the long durée of punishment as embodied spectacle in numerous nineteenth century entertainment.
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