This film is part of Free

How It Feels to Be Run Over

A terrifying first-person brush with death at the hands of a dangerous driver

Trick film 1900 1 mins Silent


A Victorian nightmare is brought to life in this bracing film from Cecil Hepworth, which shamelessly exploits contemporary fears about 'horseless carriages'. A horse-drawn cart travels sedately down a country path, easily avoiding the camera/audience. But when a car (an ersatz contraption 'of dog-cart design') follows the same route, it crashes straight into the lens. At the moment of impact, the screen turns black and fills with the sarcastic last words: "Oh mother will be pleased!"

Hepworth himself plays the driver of the car contraption, which was tricky to manoeuvre as it was easily overbalanced, adding drama by nearly swerving out of trouble at the last minute. The lasting innovation introduced by this film wasn't the first-person perspective death scene, but the use of 'intertitles', or on-screen captions. This is the first film known to feature this device, which was central to silent cinema and is still used in various forms today.