Title ID 8400Collection ID1189
TitleExplosion of a Motor Car
CollectionEarly Films
ThemeEarly film in the South East Transport
KeywordsAccidents Cars Transport Motor Vehicles
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionCecil Hepworth
DirectorCecil Hepworth
CastCecil Hepworth
FormatBlack & White Silent
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A policeman assesses the scene of an exploded car in this comedy by Cecil Hepworth.


Two men and two women wave from a moving motor car. They disappear in a ball of smoke, leaving a pile of wheels and detritus. A passing policeman inspects the scene, looking up into the sky with a handy telescope. Body parts start to rain down from the sky, the policeman neatly swerving to avoid them. He starts to pick the bodies up, piling them up and taking notes.

Contextual information

Hepworth and Co.'s Explosion of a Motor Car is one of the earliest British films to employ the jump cut, a camera trick pioneered by Georges Melies, as a means to alter reality for comic effect.

Related resources


Hepworth, Cecil. Came the Dawn: Memories of a Film Pioneer n.p. London: Phoenix House

Date: 1951 Autobiography by Cecil Hepworth.

Barnes, John. The Beginnings of the Cinema in England 1894-1901. Five Volumes, n.p. University of Exeter Press

Date: 1996-1998 All five volumes of John Barnes’s archaeological study of early cinema charts its development between 1894 and 1901. Barnes founded the Barnes Museum of Cinematography with his brother William in the 1960s. The collection provided primary material for Barnes’s study of early cinema.

Low, Rachael. The History of the British Film 1906-1914. n.p. London: Allen and Unwin

Date: 1973 Volumes 1-4 contain material on Hepworth and his films.

Gifford, Denis. “Fitz: The Old Man of the Screen.” in Charles Barr (ed.) All Our Yesterdays

Date: 1986


BFI National Archive, British Film Institute, London

Holds copies of many Hepworth films.

Further Information on File at Screen Archive South East

BFI National Archive copy kept on file SASE 950000.


BFI Screenonline: Cecil Hepworth

BFI resource providing biographical overview and film synopses.

BFI Screenonline: Lewin Fitzhamon

BFI resource providing biographical overview and film synopses.

BFI Screenonline: Percy Stow

BFI resource providing biographical overview and film synopses.

Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema: Cecil Hepworth

Provides biographical overview and further reading.

Hepworth Films

Website dedicated to the life and work of Cecil Hepworth, includes information on his ‘film stars’, such as Alma Taylor and Chrissie White.