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The first werewolf movie ever filmed is a long-lost silent film from
1913, 18 minutes in length, unfortunately destroyed by a fire in 1924.
It was the only film which examines the old Indian legends of people
turned into wolves through magic power for purposes of vengeance, who
can assume human form at will.
A Navajo woman named Kee-On-Ee believes she has been abandoned by her husband, who has actually been killed, and so she becomes a witch. Her daughter, Watuma, is taught to hate all white men and seeks vengeance by attacking the invading whites in wolf form, until she encounters a friar and his cross. She returns from death 100 years later to kill the sweetheart of the reincarnation of the man who shot her lover. A real wolf was used in the transformation sequence, involving simple camera dissolves.
Directed by Henry MacRae, who directed over a hundred films prior to 1930, mostly exotic adventure shorts, and produced early classics such as the Flash Gordon series.
According to Stephen Jones in his anthology *The Mammoth Book of Wolf
Men* (page xii), this "Canadian two-reeler" film was loosely based on
Henry Beaugrand's story "The Werewolves" (1898). Incidentally, Jones
goes on to say that the silent French film Le Loup-Garou (1923) was
also based on this same Beaugrand short story. The story then clearly
captured the imaginations of people of this era.
Here is a link, if you're interested, to the short story: http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/werwolvs.htm
I was surprised by just how short this short story actually is. Also, other than the fact that both the plot of this lost film and the plot of the short story both involves Indians, there does not appear to be that much of a direct resemblance between the two stories.
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