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Sandow: The Strong Man (1894)

Souvenir Strip of the Edison Kinetoscope (original title)
Not Rated | | Documentary, Short | 18 May 1894 (USA)
Eugen Sandow, who claims to be the strongest man in the world, appears in the Edison Company's film studio.


Eugen Sandow


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Credited cast:
Eugen Sandow Eugen Sandow ... Himself


Vaudeville star Eugen Sandow, who claims to be the strongest man in the world, appears in the Thomas Edison Company's film studio. Eugen Sandow, who appears without props or equipment, flexes his muscles and assumes a variety of poses that are designed to highlight his physique. Written by Snow Leopard

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Plot Keywords:

vaudeville act | strong man | See All (2) »


Documentary | Short


Not Rated




Release Date:

18 May 1894 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sandow: The Strong Man See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.36 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Among the first group of motion pictures to be exhibited commercially in the world, when the Holland Bros.' Kinetoscope Parlor opened on Broadway in New York City on 14 April 1894. See more »

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User Reviews

Historically notable but artistically mediocre early short
21 March 2005 | by BrandtSponsellerSee all my reviews

This is a 20-second long Edison Company short, filmed March 6, 1894 at Edison's Black Maria studio, of the man widely considered to be the first modern body builder, Eugen (or "Eugene") Sandow, who flexes for the camera.

Sandow, born Friedrich Wilhelm Mueller in 1867 in Prussia, had worked as a sideshow strongman, often for famed showman Florenz Ziegfeld. In later years he was the personal fitness instructor for King George V. He authored a number of books on health and fitness and is credited with doing much to start the "health movement" that continues to this day.

Sandow was notable for believing that strongmen shouldn't just present displays of strength, but show off their bodies as works of art. Conceiving of his body as sculptural artwork, Sandow looked to classical Greek and Roman statuary for an ideal human form to emulate.

Ziegfeld put together a traveling show called "Sandow's Trocadero Vaudevilles"--"Trocadero" after the Chicago nightclub Ziegfeld's father opened in 1893, hoping to capitalize on the city's upcoming World's Fair. In the roadshow, as in appearances at the Trocadero, Sandow presented "Muscle Display Performances", as he does in this short. He also performed the usual feats of strength, although he would occasionally execute odd stunts such as holding a pony above his head.

An amusing incident on the roadshow occurred in San Francisco, where it was publicized that Sandow would wrestle a "man-eating lion". Thousands showed up, but it was obvious that the animal had been drugged--it could barely function. Despite such fiascos, Ziegfeld and Sandow traveled for nearly two years.

So Sandow, the short--the copyright title is actually "Souvenir strip of the Edison Kinetoscope (Sandow, the modern Hercules)"--has much historical significance. As a work of art, it isn't quite as successful as some other Edison shorts, such as Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1894). The picture is broached by light seeping in from either side, probably due to some technical problem with the early cameras. Less forgivable, the framing of Sandow is too close, resulting in poses being cut off; you can often not see Sandow's hands, and it somewhat ruins the statue-like effect that was the point of Sandow's performance.

But Sandow is impressive enough physically, and in light of the historical interest, both because of its place in the history of film and Sandow and Ziegfeld's lives, it's certainly worth the few seconds it takes to watch.

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