The US Navy in 1915
June 9, 2010 9:03 AM   Subscribe

The US Navy in 1915, a short film.

In 1915, Secretary of the Navy Joseph Daniels decided that the newly popular technology of movies could be used to convince voters of the importance of having a strong navy. He granted a team of filmmakers full access to the Navy, and they eventually produced a silent documentary -- which was believed lost. Recently, an 11-minute fragment of the film was discovered in Australia, and now it's online.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (15 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
For some reason, I keep imagining that the world was made of isolated cities and countries until the 1920s or 1930s, and even then, I'm stuck with this thought that Europe and North America were the only regions that were actively trading material until the past decades. Then I'm reminded that ships had connected the continents for centuries, and trade connected nations not telephones and airlines.

Back to the topic: The Orphan Film Symposium (blog) sounds fascinating. Keen find!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:20 AM on June 9, 2010


Very cool! The submarines were especially cool. And the scene at 7:45 is funny as hell.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:27 AM on June 9, 2010


Fantastic. Thanks for posting this.

So... is this the oldest film footage of the US Navy that exists today?
posted by zarq at 9:39 AM on June 9, 2010


The bit with the heliograph was interesting. I had no idea what it was, although the film made it obvious.

When I see early documentary footage (and to a lesser extent early film of any sort), I wonder what it must have been like for people to see people doing whatever happened to be caught on film at an early age, as opposed to these days when video is everywhere. The technology and cinematic language for focusing on whatever is important just doesn't exist in these films, so they're somewhat disorienting to a modern viewer who's used to getting those cues.
posted by immlass at 9:40 AM on June 9, 2010


to convince isolationists of the importance of building a strong American navy ..... This was not first time the Navy had turned to film to tell its story.”

Seems that kind of tradition and forward thinking continued 70 years later with Top Gun. Pretty kitschy, but damn if it wasn't good for the Navy's recruiting stats and public image.

Meanwhile you have the Air Force... a lot of potential there, but no movies except Iron Eagle. Yep. Iron Eagle, never say die and all that.
posted by crapmatic at 9:44 AM on June 9, 2010


Meanwhile you have the Air Force... a lot of potential there, but no movies except Iron Eagle.

I'm pretty sure Stategic Air Command was made with the cooperation of USAF as a promotional tool. And I do mean "tool."

Of course, that was 55 years ago.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:12 AM on June 9, 2010


> Meanwhile you have the Air Force... a lot of potential there, but no movies except Iron Eagle.

True, but the Air Force is generally held in higher regard among techie types as it is a place where one can learn a very usable skill set while being subjected to the least amount of drill instructor culture.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:21 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I recently discovered Carrier (previously), which will give you a much longer look at a more modern Navy and the people who work there. Also, it has sound.
posted by Hoenikker at 10:31 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


the Air Force is generally held in higher regard among techie types

I was just saying that the Army gets the shaft in recruiting because it lacks a strong inherent image to portray.

Navy -- See the world, not just a job, but an adventure.
Marines -- Elite force, the few, the proud, are you good enough for this?
Air Force -- Techies working with satellites, & techies
Army -- ???

Be all you can be? Band of brothers? An army of one? It's not resonating any longer.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:33 AM on June 9, 2010


I literally almost joined the Navy a day or so ago.

Seriously, in the doghouse, bank account ruined, that treadmill to nowhere feeling constant nagging questions about my life and purpose and what the fuck am I doing on this planet anyway and everything is so hard and confusing and stupid and you pass by thet very Blade Runner military sign-up kiosk in Times Square and the thought lights up like neon: I could join the Navy. not like I'll get shot at on a boat or behind a desk, I wouldn't have to make any decisions, I wouldn't have to be responsible for anything other then whatever anyone tell me, a unit, a cog, how wonderful that would be (plus this was going through an awful lot of Battlestar Galatica filters too) plus! possible healthcare!

Then I remembered if I joined the Navy no one would finish my script and I'd let down a bunch of people, so I just walked home instead.
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yvan eht nioj
posted by jabberjaw at 11:30 AM on June 9, 2010


It was interesting to see African American seamen alongside whites during the firing demonstration - it shows how segregated the Armed Forces became during the interwar period. (Tho I will note that the vast majority of those abovedecks in the flim were white.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:54 AM on June 9, 2010


That was great—I love the intertitle

THIS GUN IS FIRED BY ELECTRICITY

I can just see the audience going "Oooohhhh...!"
posted by languagehat at 11:57 AM on June 9, 2010


The US Navy in 1978, a short film.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:26 PM on June 9, 2010


The film was made with the full support of the Secretary of the Navy, Joseph Daniels, who believed in the power of motion pictures to convince isolationists of the importance of building a strong American navy.

This past weekend, Andy McNab reported to the Financial Times that his books have brought about a significant rise in applications to the British army.

Never underestimate the power of imagination.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:10 PM on June 9, 2010


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