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Fred Ott's Sneeze

Fred Ott's Sneeze
The full film
Directed byWilliam K.L. Dickson
Produced byWilliam K.L. Dickson
StarringFred Ott
Distributed byEdison Manufacturing Company
Release date
  • January 9, 1894 (1894-01-09)
Running time
approximately 5 seconds
CountryUnited States

Fred Ott's Sneeze (also known as Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze) is an 1894 short, black-and-white, silent film shot by William K.L. Dickson and featuring Fred Ott. It is the oldest surviving motion picture to be copyrighted, although it is now in the public domain.[1]

In the approximately five-second film, which was shot in January 1894,[2] one of Thomas Edison's assistants, Fred Ott, takes a pinch of snuff and sneezes. According to the Library of Congress, the film was "made for publicity purposes, as a series of still photographs to accompany an article in Harper's Weekly."[3] The published Harper's Weekly version is slightly longer than what now survives on film, and depicts a second sneeze. [4]

In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."[5][6][7]


The film was produced by the Edison Manufacturing Company, which had begun making films in 1890 under the direction of Dickson, one of the earliest film pioneers. It was filmed within the Black Maria studio at West Orange, New Jersey, which was the first U.S. movie studio. It was filmed between January 2, 1894, and January 7, 1894[3] and was displayed, at the time, on Kinetoscope.

Current status

45 paper prints made from individual frames of the film.

As a film published in the United States before 1978 and more than 95 years ago, its copyright expired and the work is in the public domain in the United States. In countries where copyright expires 70 years after the author's death, the copyright of the film expired in 2006. Originally, the film was submitted to the Library of Congress as a "paper print" (a photographic record of each frame of the film) for copyright purposes. A digital copy is now kept by the Library of Congress and can be viewed on their American Memory website.[3] This short film was featured at the 30th Annual Academy Awards, and was included as part of the TV documentary, The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "A Sneeze Caught on Film". American Treasures of the Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2017-02-06.
  2. ^ Carlisle, Rodney P. (2009). Handbook to Life in America. Vol. 5. Facts On File, Incorporated. p. 148. ISBN 978-1-4381-1901-4. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Edison kinetoscopic record of a sneeze, January 7, 1894". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2018-02-23.
  4. ^ "Edison kinetoscopic record of a sneeze, January 7, 1894". Library of Congress.
  5. ^ Mike Barnes (December 16, 2015). "'Ghostbusters,' 'Top Gun,' 'Shawshank' Enter National Film Registry". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  6. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  7. ^ "2015 National Film Registry: "Ghostbusters" Gets the Call". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  8. ^ "Internet Movie Database Movie Connections". IMDb. Retrieved 2007-03-17.
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Fred Ott's Sneeze
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