This film is part of Free

Explosion of a Motor Car

A hapless copper is left to pick up the pieces after a gruesome collision of early trick cinema and cartoonish comedy

Comedy 1900 2 mins Silent


Many Victorians were very wary of the dangers of new "horseless carriages" and Cecil Hepworth's grisly comedy won't have put their fears to rest. A wonky "dog cart" contraption standing in for a car pootles down a suburban road before suddenly combusting. After a prolonged delay, the car and the passengers fall to earth - broken into their constituent parts. A passing policeman, played by Hepworth himself, calmly takes stock of the strewn limbs.

This topical comedy was Hepworth's biggest hit to date, bringing lots of attention to his relatively new Hepwix firm. He described it as "an epoch in my film life" and its success encouraged him to build a studio and shoot more comic subjects. This detour away from actuality themes would lead eventually to his celebrated experiments with cinema narratives as he learned how to tell more complex stories through film.