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The Sinking of the 'Lusitania' (1918)

TV-PG | | Animation, Short | 20 July 1918 (USA)
An animated dramatization of the notorious World War I German torpedoing of the ocean liner, Lusitania.

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Storyline

An animated depiction of the sinking of the Lusitania: In May 1915, the liner leaves the United States, headed for Liverpool with over 2000 passengers on board. As the ship nears its destination, she is struck and severely damaged by a torpedo from a German U-boat. Even as frantic efforts to evacuate the ship are underway, another torpedo strikes the ship, leading quickly to disaster. Written by Snow Leopard

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Animation | Short

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TV-PG | See all certifications »
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20 July 1918 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Sinking of the 'Lusitania', an amazing moving pen picture by Winsor McCay.  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

The event depicted in this film occurred on Friday 7 May 1915. See more »

Goofs

It was German submarine U-20 that torpedoed RMS Lusitania, not German submarine U-39 as shown on the inter-title card. However, on the same day (7 May 1915) U-39 shelled and sunk the United Kingdom trawler Benington in the North Sea. Her crew survived. See more »

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Animation Landmark
19 November 2002 | by See all my reviews

Animation historians must view this film immediately, but I suppose if you can find one McCay cartoon you can find them all - they're compiled on the 'Animation Legend' video and DVD. 'Lusitania' is the film where McCay tries to escape the caricatural confines of the animated picture to produce a serious and moving film, and damn, he succeeds. The meticulous care which he put into the thousands of drawings necessary for this short cartoon meant that by the time it was finished, it was barely topical and WWI was over, leaving its calls for vengeance somewhat stranded. However, as a study of technique it is perhaps unsurpassed. McCay's animation has a dimensionality which is worlds apart from the character animation of Koko the Klown or Felix the Cat, perhaps a deliberate differentiation from such gentle entertainments. The grim monochrome images of the Lusitania's stern raised in the air while hundreds of people leap to their deaths while remind most audiences of shots from James Cameron's 'Titanic'. While the barely-concealed rage and maudlin tributes to the famous noblemen who died in the sinking (as opposed the penniless plebs who we can afford to forget) now appear unpalatably heavy-handed, the elegant curls of smoke from the stricken vessel are simply powerful cinematic touches which seal McCay's reputation as one of the great film artists of the silent era. If only he, and not Disney, had become the template for the future of American animation...


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