This film is part of Free

Ship at Sea

A clever early film that uses the new medium to drag the audience out to sea

Non-Fiction 1898 1 mins Silent


The power of moving photography is exploited in this early film, not to dazzle audiences' eyes but to turn their stomachs. The camera is mounted on the bow of a ship ploughing forward through a squall, and as the boat lurches up and down, the image does too - meaning that the viewer experiences the (unpleasant) sensation of movement too. The canny composition means that the frame contains both the ship and the waves, each moving in different directions.

This ingenious film pre-empts the emerging enthusiasm for 'phantom ride' films, in which the camera is mounted on the front a train, car or boat, giving the audience the impression of travelling through a landscape. In this film, rather bleakly, there is little on the horizon except for more of those brutal waves. It was made by the Warwick Trading Company, an early American film production outfit run from a London office. Warwick specialised in actuality films, shot all over the world. When few people could afford to travel, these films brought far-flung sights to the first film audiences.