This film is part of Free
The Big Swallow
A classic early film gag - and a big leap forward for a fast-evolving new art
Comedy 1901 1 mins Silent
One of the most famous of all early films, James Williamson's The Big Swallow is the first to play with the internal logic of the film form itself. "I won't, I won't! I'll eat the camera first," declares the irate gentleman, annoyed by an intrusive photographer and, good as his word, he proceeds towards the camera - and us, the audience - until his mouth, in huge close up, opens and swallows the camera, photographer and all. But as the camera and its operator disappear into the dark, we are left wondering: who is still filming the man as he licks his lips?
Inventing Film Language
Comedy 1899 2 mins Silent
A snatched kiss in a railway tunnel, played by real-life married couple GA Smith and Laura Bayley
Comedy 1900 1 mins Silent
A peeping Tom gets a shocking glimpse of stocking in this early take on film voyeurism.
Comedy 1901 0 mins Silent
A country yokel gets a shock in an early example of a 'film within a film'.
1900 0 mins Silent
Dare you watch this footage of larger-than-life spiders - one of the earliest nature films of its type?
Fantasy 1901 2 mins
The strange objects in this shop are brought uncannily to life thanks to a series of early camera tricks
Comedy 1897 1 mins Silent
How many faces can one man pull while drinking one glass of beer? Far more than you might think
Industry sponsored film 1960 24 mins
A new luxury express is put through its paces. This film looks over the shoulders of the select band of craftsmen, engineers and operators, whose combined skills try to ensure that a train journey is a delightful experience.
Documentary 1973 15 mins
British Transport Films record the varied daily lives of their neighbours as seen from the high roof of their building in London’s Marylebone.
Travelogue 1953 21 mins Location: York
The Stationmaster at York guides us through a typical day, from dawn to dusk.
Industry sponsored film 1957 20 mins
Illustrating the efficiency of express freight trains, and how they link manufacturers with their customers at the other end of Britain.
Documentary 1952 30 mins
Examining a day in the life of what was then the busiest railway system in the world – British Railways.
Industry sponsored film 1957 9 mins
A 1957 film examining the future for British Railways, and some of the opportunities provided by a new modernisation plan.