Sinking of the Lusitania early animated film


Dec 12, 1999
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One of the most famous pieces of early cartoon film animation was a serious rendition of the sinking of the Lusitania. Although I've never seen it, the film is purportedly a high quality, excellently drawn film animation of the sinking - - - put together in the teens or early 1920s. The artist drew sequential pictures of the ship being hit by the torpedo, and then sinking. The person who did it is quite well known, but unfortunately, I don't know his name. Has anyone heard of this, or seen the film?
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Jan- I've not seen the film of which you speak, but will look into it tomorrow and, hopefully, get you an answer. So far the only SURVIVING vintage Lusitania film, exclusive of newsreels, of which I know (and I've conveniently forgotten the title but will send it in another post this evening) is one excerpted in the British documentary "Hollywood." You can see clips from it (fairly cheesy, at that) in the segment on World War 1 Hollywood. Right now I'm trying to track down Lusitania survivor Rita Jolivet's potboiler "Lest We Forget" in which the Lusitania plays a part. FYI Miss Jolivet was brought to Hollywood soon after the sinking as part of the disasterous "Famous Players In Famous Plays" effort in which studios brought established Broadway stars out west to give movies "tone" and "class" with predictably poor results. If remembered at all in film histories, she is generally grouped in with the embarrassing flops. That said, I've not found any of her films to study so I can't really say what was so WRONG......but, after viewing surviving stills, I can formulate some theories. Anyway, I'll get that Lusitania title to you ASAP. JIM Oh, and I think that the Lusitania might also figure in the much sought after lost film "The Kaiser: Beast of Berlin."
 

Eric Sauder

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Nov 12, 2000
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Hi, Jan:

The animated film of Lusitania sinking was done by Winsor McCay (not sure if I spelled that right) in 1918. I have a copy of it, and considering when it was made, the animation is pretty good. It must have been very impressive at the time.

Because my copy is on 16mm film, I haven't watched it in a while, but from what I remember the film shows Lusitania steaming along, the torpedoing, and a long segment of the ship sinking.

Eric Sauder
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Eric: That animation was done McCay?! Thanks! I guess that was the ONE surviving McKay animation that I wasn't subjected to a few thousand times back in film classes.
I have a review of "Lest We Forget" coming, so I will shortly be able to give fuller detail as to the Lusitania's importance in it, and of Miss Jolivet's performance and critical reception.

Kathy: Thanks for the link!
 

Ryan Thompson

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Dec 6, 2005
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Sure thing.

I was surprised when I saw it. This was 11+ years before the advent of Steamboat Willie! Disney had done a handful of animated cartoons before that, but Steamboat Willie was the first real, all-out cartoon. I think it was their first 'talkie', too. Winsor McKay's cartoon is a silent film but its incredibly advanced for when it was made.
 
Feb 4, 2007
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There are some aspects of the Lusitania "cartoon" (never thought there would be an actual animated cartoon about a real disaster, but then, wasn't Cameron's Titanic partially an animated "cartoon"?
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) which reminded me very strongly of Disney's Fantasia ~ which wouldn't come out for a couple more decades!! Namely, the smoke treatment, and the the manner in which the lowering of the lifeboats is drawn. Maybe it's just me.
 
May 27, 2007
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Pretty well done for the time. I wish they would redo the music. The version I saw was filled with grinding organ music that reminded me of beginning of Phantom Of The Opera The Motion Picture except it was out of tune.
 

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