Here’s another early milestone from the legendary animator Winsor McCay — 1918’s “The Sinking of the Lusitania.” (I am linking below to the Under the Spreading Oak Tree Youtube channel.) At 12 minutes long, this silent propaganda film was the lengthiest of its time. It chronicled the sinking of the eponymous British civilian ocean liner three years prior that propelled America into World War I. (It is also regarded as the oldest animated film with a serious subject matter.)
McCay himself supported America’s entry in to the war. His employer, William Randolph Hearst, however, did not. So while McCay was required to produce anti-war editorial cartoons on the job, he financed and and worked on “The Sinking of the Lusitania” independently.
It is a striking film. The artistry is absolutely impressive, and you can tell that McCay worked hard to convey the horror of the event. The final image of a woman with a baby sinking below the waves is unsettling indeed.