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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
The Kiss in the Tunnel
Comedy 1899 2 mins Silent
A snatched kiss in a railway tunnel, played by real-life married couple GA Smith and Laura Bayley
As Seen through a Telescope
Comedy 1900 1 mins Silent
A peeping Tom gets a shocking glimpse of stocking in this early take on film voyeurism.
Countryman and the Cinematograph
Comedy 1901 0 mins Silent
A country yokel gets a shock in an early example of a 'film within a film'.
Spiders on a Web
1900 0 mins Silent
Dare you watch this footage of larger-than-life spiders - one of the earliest nature films of its type?
The Haunted Curiosity Shop
Fantasy 1901 2 mins
The strange objects in this shop are brought uncannily to life thanks to a series of early camera tricks
Comic Faces - Old Man Drinking a Glass of Beer
Comedy 1897 1 mins Silent
How many faces can one man pull while drinking one glass of beer? Far more than you might think
What's Missing from this Picture?
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.
Fun at Rhyl
Advert 1962 0 mins Location: Rhyl
Cinema advertisement for Marine Lake & Ocean Beach, Rhyl, a popular destination for crowds set on a day's fun on free rides.
Local Cinema Advertisements - Blaenau Ffestiniog and Merthyr
Advert 1942 7 mins Silent Location: Blaenau Ffestiniog
Who could deny these advertising claims: "Attractive hair is the ambition of every woman", and "Your family will enjoy Lincoln potatoes"?
Shippam's Three Beans
Advert 1955 1 mins
Operatic chickens, shrimps and salmon sing-a-long with a paste pot chorus in this vibrantly animated advert for Shippam's
Liberty Foundations Commercial
Advert 1956 2 mins Location: Market Harborough
Liberté, égalité and fraternité in corsets, girdles and bras.
Local Trader's Gazette
Advert 1930 9 mins Silent Location: East Sussex
This amazing discovery shows how cinema advertising used to look in Bygone Britain - a truly nostalgic gem of a film for lovers of Britain's past