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
Comedy 1896 1 mins Silent
A deft music hall act adapted for film, featuring the only known appearance of pioneer filmmaker Robert Paul
Advert 1985 2 mins
Take a fighter jet, a Top Gun pilot with sunglasses and a brand new SAAB 900 and you have a sure-fire vehicle to launch a Hollywood career.
Promotional 2019 10 mins
A wandering warrior dreams of a new form of expression, in this promo for UNKLE’s album The Road: Part II / Lost Highway Pt. II directed by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones.
1935 16 mins
A rare glimpse of 1930s London in colour: the Thames has never looked lovelier.
1965 1 mins Location: York
A world away from zany humour, Richard Lester shows he can also capture the easy opulence of the upper class nibbling After Eight mints.
Advert 1946 1 mins Silent
Life is looking up! The war is over and the “Corona” Man can visit his “Corona” families once more, door-to-door.