My sympathies are entirely with the shark


The first underwater film features a staged fight with a shark, and closes with the lifeless body of the innocent animal drifting away.

I’m not too impressed, JE Williamson.

Comments

  1. robro says

    My sympathies are with the horse and both sharks…but I ain’t watching.

    This Library of Congress article tells some of Williamson’s story. It says the tube was invented by his father, but J. E. adapted it and added the sphere to shoot underwater films. His father captained ships and came up with the tube for doing repairs.

    J. E. made his first film…possibly this one… with the device in 1914, titled “Thirty Leagues Under the Sea.” In 1916 he made a film adaptation of…who could guess…Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. And yes, he consulted on Disney’s remake in 1954, some of which was made in the same locations.

    Animal cruelty in films has been common throughout film history. In the 1939 film “Jesse James” they pushed a horse off a plank to film it drowning. That’s when the Animal Humane Association began working with the Hayes Office of MPP Code fame to enforce regulations against animal (and child) cruelty. When the Hayes Office closed in 1966, the treatment of animals used in films resulted in new horrors, although AHA and others continued to monitor productions and award the “No Animals Were Harmed” message.

    One of the worst modern films for animal cruelty may be Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” (1980), which is perhaps one of the worst films I ever tried to watch. The following year, one of film crews working on “Reds” used trip wires to make horses fall. As a horse loving friend told me, horses legs are vulnerable so tripping a horse could easily mean its death. As recently as 2013, three productions were reported to have injured or killed animals: “Life of Pi,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” and HBO’s “Luck.”

    No Animals Were Harmed may be just so much marketing.

  2. ajbjasus says

    Very sad, but times were very diffirent then. Williamson’s constant description of the shark as a monster is very telling, and in many ways his free dive to take on a shark with a knife was pretty stupid.

    On the plus side the start of underwater filming was the very first step in showing more people the wonders of the deep, and perhaps a more enlightened understanding, although nonsense like JAWS was giving sharks a bad press even recently.

    Ultimately though the pressures of a growing population, commercial fishing, pollution and climate change are what will do the damage to the oceans.

  3. komarov says

    Any marks earned for technique and innovation, perhaps, have been promptly deducted for the actual content.

    Re: ajbjasus (#3)

    […] in many ways his free dive to take on a shark with a knife was pretty stupid.

    In the video it looks like he took the poor creature by suprise. The scene lasts only a few seconds but the shark seems to be swimming along quite calmly. Then all of a suddeny some random hominid shows up stabs it in the belly. It’s last thoughts might well have been the shark equivalent of “What the hell?!”

  4. busterggi says

    Yes, well, the electrocution of an elephant was also filmed back then.

    The fact that both can still be viewed says humanity hasn’t changed any.