Thursday, August 16, 2018

Video: Winsor McCay's "The Sinking of the Lusitania" (1918)

From 100 years ago, here is "The Sinking of the Lusitania," a short film by Winsor McCay. It clocks in at 12 minutes and is a piece of powerful propaganda. There were no photos of the 1915 event, in which 1,198 people were killed when a German U-Boat torpedoed the RMS Lusitania.

The event outraged McCay, but the newspapers of his employer William Randolph Hearst downplayed the event, as Hearst was opposed to the US joining World War I. McCay was required to illustrate anti-war and anti-British editorial cartoons for Hearst's papers. In 1916, McCay rebelled against his employer's stance and began work on the patriotic Sinking of the Lusitania on his own time with his own money. 
The film followed McCay's earlier successes in animation: Little Nemo (1911), How a Mosquito Operates (1912), and Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). McCay drew these earlier films on rice paper, onto which backgrounds had to be laboriously traced; The Sinking of the Lusitania was the first film McCay made using the new, more efficient cel technology. McCay and his assistants spent twenty-two months making the film. His subsequent animation output suffered setbacks, as the film was not as commercially successful as his earlier efforts, and Hearst put increased pressure on McCay to devote his time to editorial drawings.
-- Wikipedia

The music is the Tragic Overture by Johannes Brahms, performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

No comments: