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

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 staff writer. 

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