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Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Footage (1937)

| Short, News
Film of the famous airship explosion.
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Cast

Credited cast:
Herbert Morrison ...
Himself - News Reporter (voice)
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Storyline

The airship Hindenburg, arriving from Europe, was being led to its mooring at Lakehurst, New Jersey when suddenly disaster struck. The hydrogen-filled zeppelin ignited, and was almost instantly transformed into an enormous fireball. In less than a minute, the entire ship had been consumed by flames. The Hindenburg explosion marked the end of the budding airship travel industry. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

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Short | News

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Of all five newsreels filmed from the disaster, none show the moment the fire first broke out. Most of the cameramen had their cameras aimed at the ground crew and only started rolling seconds after the fire first appeared. The Pathe Cameraman, William Deeke, did have his camera focused on the airship as it caught fire, but his camera malfunctioned. He had to set up a hand crank and by the time he started filming the ship was already burning and its tail was already on the ground. The footage shown in the Hearst and Universal Newsreels (filmed by Hearst's James Seeley) is the most complete of the four reels filmed. See more »

Quotes

Herbert Morrison: It's practically standing still now. They've dropped ropes out of the nose of the ship, and it's been taken ahold of down on the field by a number of men. It's starting to rain again; the rain had slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it, just enough to keep it from...
[the Hindenberg suddenly explodes]
Herbert Morrison: It burst into flames! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Get this, Charlie! Get this, Charlie! It's fire and it's crashing! It's crashing terrible! Oh, my! ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Creeping Terror (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Get this, Charlie! Get this, Charlie!"
29 September 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

It's extraordinary to hear Herbert Morrison's classic journalistic instinct coming into play almost immediately after the LZ 129 Hindenburg spectacularly erupted into flames on May 6, 1937 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. The narration starts off with a routine introduction, with Morrison sounding a bit bored, as the Zeppelin comes in to the mooring dock; then – unexpectedly – "it burst into flames! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Get this, Charlie; Get this, Charlie!" At this point, the 31-year-old Chicago reporter (on assignment from WLS radio station) thought of nothing but capturing the moment for all prosperity, in the process immortalising himself and making the Hindenburg disaster one of the most recognisable air disasters in history. Though Morrison's on-the-scene commentary has become inseparable from the newsreel images of the Hindenburg's fate, the images and audio were recorded entirely separately, and were not synchronised until many years later; most newsreels of the day accompanied the footage with over-dramatic title cards or studio-recorded narration.

After watching 'The Zeppelin Hindenburg (1936),' a rare compilation of amateur footage that covers one of the airship's successful trans-Atlantic crossings, I was prompted to seek out the more exciting footage that has burnt itself into history. Since there are many newsreels of the disaster to be found on the internet, I watched a brief selection: 'Hindenburg Explodes (1937),' filmed by Pathé cameramen; 'Hindenburg Explodes, Scores Dead (1937),' released by Universal Newsreels (even though their cameraman wasn't present at the incident) and two alternative clips with Morrison's commentary dubbed over the footage. In one of the clips, Morrison's voice is surprisingly high, suggesting incredible panic and anxiety, though this can likely be attributed to the footage being recorded at a slower frame-rate, meaning that playback has been misleadingly sped up. Engineer Charlie Nielsen also played a crucial role in capturing the incident, lowering the cutting head back to the recording disc after it was dislodged by the shockwave from the explosion. In total, 36 people lost their lives in the disaster – and Charlie got it, all right!


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