Friday, July 27, 2018

The Sinking of the Lusitania -- July 27, 2018

Moving Picture World, 20-July-1918
100 years ago this month, in July, 1918, Jewel Productions, a subsidiary of Universal, released Winsor McCay's animated documentary, "The Sinking of the Lusitania."

After a year of war, Germany was not in a good position. The British had established a fairly tight blockade of imports, and the army had failed to take Paris and had settled into static positions on the Western Front. In order to disrupt vital shipping to Britain, Germany had decided to adopt a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. U-Boats would no longer warn civilian vessels before sinking them. On 07-May-1915, U-20 torpedoed and sank RMS Lusitania near the coast of Ireland. A number of Americans died and this nearly drove the country into the war on the side of the Allies, Britain, France and Russia. Germany promised to stop unrestricted submarine warfare and America stayed out until they resumed it again.

Lusitania carried 1,962 passengers. 1,191 died. 128 of the dead were Americans.

Pioneering animator Winsor McCay devoted his own time and money to make a film of the sinking.  This was his first animated movie to use the cel method which is still used today for hand-drawn animation.  Despite the time saved with cels, the movie took nearly two years to complete.

It is an effective piece of anti-German propaganda.

Moving Picture World, 27-July-1918

Motion Picture News, 06-July-1918
"One would never imagine that the time would come when the more serious things in life would be told most realistically by animated cartoon drawings."

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