Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Cheese Mites (1903)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

A gentleman is shown eating his lunch of bread and cheese. Occasionally he glances at his morning paper through a reading glass. He suddenly notices that the cheese is out of the ordinary and examines it with his glass. To his horror he finds it is alive with mites and, in disgust, leaves the table. Hundreds of mites scurry in all directions.

Reference: Charles Urban Trading Company catalogue. November 1903. No. 2051. p. 84. June 1905 No. 2513. p. 39.

Note: In its extant form, Cheese Mites consists of a series of microcinematographic shots lasting in total less than a minute. Charles Urban's catalogue description referred to the creatures as 'crawling and creeping about in all directions, looking like great uncanny crabs, bristling with long spiny hairs and legs'. There is no narrative link achieved by cutting together the different sequences. Either the film was originally one single sequence and today's surviving copy is a damaged version, or Francis Martin Duncan and Urban simply selected the best sequences. In some of the shots there is what might be mistaken for camera movement, whereas technically this must be the result of Duncan moving the slide in the microscope to capture the best view. The film's indistinctness does not allow verification that the cheese in question is the purported Stilton. In fact, cheese mites favour hard cheeses such as Mimolette.