The original “Eagle Snatches Child” video, “Rescued From an Eagle’s Nest” (1908), starring D.W. Griffith.

The Original “Eagle Snatches Child” Video, Starring D.W. Griffith

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 20 2012 2:04 PM

The Original “Eagle Snatches Child” Video

Still from "Rescued from an Eagle's Nest"
A scene from "Rescued From an Eagle's Nest."

Film is in the public domain.

After yesterday’s (fake) “Golden Eagle Snatches Child” video gulled the whole Internet, I wrote about the rich history of baby-snatching-eagle stories. Though raptor experts doubt that the birds would ever fly away with a child, reports of kidnappings by eagle were common in newspapers of the early 20th century. New York Times headlines alone included “Eagle Carries Off Child,” “Eagle Seizes Little Girl,” “Father Shoots a Bird With Infant in Its Talons,” and more.

But these tales weren’t only found in newspapers. As commenter “Lassie” points out, eagle-snatches-child videos were around at the dawn of cinema. In fact, pioneering director D.W. Griffith got his first starring role in an eagle-snatches-child film, “Rescued From an Eagle’s Nest.” Griffith plays the father and titular rescuer, and I think you’ll agree that special effects have never been any more charming. The baby is played by early Edison Studios star Jinnie Frazer.

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Forrest Wickman is a Slate senior editor. He writes and edits for Slate’s culture blog, Brow Beat.

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