The first known film of a road traffic collision in Australia has discovered in the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, and it comes as part of a biscuit commercial. The silent documentary from the 1920s, which includes the 1905 accident footage, shows a person hit by a large horse as he crosses the road, sending him flying. Always remember to look in both directions.
The poor chap was on his way out of Swallow & Ariell’s sea-biscuit factory in a Melbourne suburb, where he was supposedly filming a promo. The person prances out onto the road before hit by a horse at full speed, whether out of the sparkle of possible glory or simply a mistake.
The mishap is still under investigation, but Bloomberg adds that the person “suffered a serious head injury,” raising questions about why the clip was used as a finisher to sell biscuits. Despite the unusual circumstances, the video is the first traffic accident recorded on film in Australia’s history, and possibly one of the first captured incidents ever.
Few teachings are timeless than crossing the street looking both ways. It never hurts to double-check you’re not going to get smashed by anything large and fast, whether you’re an earbud-wearing Millennial heading into a stream of hybrid vehicles or a Clovis hunter walking into a stomping route for mastodons.
The need for pedestrian situational awareness shown in this unique video from the 1920s, which depicts a traffic collision that occurred in a Melbourne neighborhood in March 1905, the silent film, which is now housed in the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, intended as a lighthearted advertisement for sea-biscuit manufacturer Swallow & Ariell’s. The biscuitry was apparently the fifth-largest factory on the planet three decades after it was founded in the 1850s, selling hard, doughy nuggets to sailing crews and then the public.
Allow the video’s current narrator, a YouTuber who grew up in Melbourne in the 1970s and 1980s, to create the scene for this tragic episode. (In addition, props to his keen eye for identifying preteen employees working with bare feet, which is a major safety hazard in most modern workplaces.)
The brief version is as follows: Employees flood out of the bakery, some with a clownish demeanor. However, one man did not look both ways, because either he was in a biscuit coma or because he was, “transfixed by the camera’s presence,” as the video archive’s subtitles imply.
Then, with the force of a rolling boulder, a horse slammed into him. According to the footage repository, the pedestrian “suffered a significant head injury.” It was the “first video road-traffic accident known to survive” in Australia. The trampled victim was both a piece of the horse and a piece of history for a brief period. To add insult to injury, the clip shows him run over by a smaller animal after that. “If the horse had not sent him flying, the dog would have.),” says one spectator.