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A Photographic Contortion (1901)

The Big Swallow (original title)
A man, objecting to being filmed, comes closer and closer to the camera lens until his mouth is all we see. Then he opens wide and swallows camera and cinematographer. He steps back, chews, and grins.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Sam Dalton
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Storyline

Here is a most novel picture. A prominent actor with wonderful talent for facial contortion is standing some distance from the camera. As the film is set in motion, he walks toward the lens until his head grows into enormous proportions. He then stands so close to the camera that every wrinkle in his face, and in fact, the pores of his skin are plainly shown and greatly magnified. As he comes closer to the lens he opens his mouth wide, and is biting at the instrument all the while. He is then seen to swallow the camera, operator and all. He is next seen backing away from the instrument, smacking lips and rubbing his stomach in great glee. Very funny and a great hit. Written by Edison Catalog

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Comedy | Short

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September 1902 (USA)  »

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A Photographic Contortion  »

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Trivia

Director James Williamson's 1901 catalog describes the film thusly: "I won't! I won't! I'll eat the camera first." See more »

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You want some conflict? Here you go
10 May 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Certainly the most memorable motion picture of 1901? (I say this having not seen all of Melies' output so I may be talking out of my butt there). Here's what happens in one minute: a man is photographed from afar and looks shy: he doesn't want to be on camera, or to come any closer. But he's told over and over to come, so finally he does. In what I should think is one of the first (if not just the first) extreme close-ups in cinema's young history, the man comes close, and his lips fill the frame... until his mouth opens and SWALLOWS THE CAMERAMAN AND HIS CAMERA!

This is an unexpectedly funny and strange movie that starts as one thing and becomes something else. It exists in part to show off how this technique works - you don't have to be the Lumiere and film one thing from a static shot - you can have a subject come closer and closer to the camera, adjust the focus, and then be eaten alive! But seriously, this is also a short that has a beginning, middle and end - hell, it even has a pay-off. It's a wonderful little short that should be shown in film schools if nothing else as example of how do this *this* and make it cinematic for a joke.


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