A Photographic Contortion (1901)
"The Big Swallow" (original title)

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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 824 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 4 critic

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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Credited cast:
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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




Release Date:

September 1902 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Photographic Contortion  »

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Did You Know?


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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User Reviews

Terrific Trick Film
30 September 2012 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

The Big Swallow (1901)

**** (out of 4)

The "story" here is pretty simple as a man is standing in front of the movie camera arguing with someone. He keeps walking towards the camera until he swallows the entire thing and even the man operating it. I'm sorry but I really, really loved this little film. At just a minute the entire thing is basically being sold on the "effect" of the man swallowing the camera and when this happen it's quite funny. I'm sure this was meant to compete with the work of Georges Melies and while I've seen many rips, this one here actually manages to capture the type of magic that the French master did with his films. The special effect of how the trick was done is quite obvious today but I can just imagine the laughter and sense of wonder that this thing must have caused back in 1901. At just a minute there's really no reason why someone who loves films shouldn't check this out.

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