Eastland | Eastland Motion Picture
Advertisement published in Chicago Tribune on July 25, 1915
From Moving Pictures World, 7 August 1915
In less than fifteen minutes after the steamship Eastland with its thousanads of passengers aboard had tipped over on its side one of the Industrial Moving Picture Co.’s camera men was on the scene taking motion pictures of the event. Harry Birch of the Industrial camera force followed the fire engine expecting to cover a fire. When he reached the scene it proved to be one of the most horrible catastrophes this country has ever known.
While a heavy rain fell throughout the entire day the picture shows exceptional photography. Every scene is very clear. In portions of it the heavy downpour of the rain can be distinctly seen. The detail of the picture is very sharp considering the conditions which the pictures were taken under.
The Chicago Tribune will release this picture and has offered to donate the proceeds to the relatives of the victims of the disaster.
Advertisements for the Chicago Tribune produced Eastland movie
From Moving Pictures World, 14 August 1915
The Injunction on Eastland Moving Pictures in Chicago.
In my last letter, in the opening article, I stated that moving pictures of the Eastland Disaster had been prohibited in Chicago theaters until grief had become somewhat abated. At the time of writing it had supposed that Acting Mayor Moorehouse, who issued the order in the absence of Mayor Thompson, had acted from a sense of respect for the feelings of the relatives of the victims of the disaster, in the first hours of their agony over the loss of their dead. It was only fitting that this should have been done.
Later it developed that the order was mandatory in its nature, and that the exhibition of the pictures was to be altogether prohibited. On the return of Mayor Thompson, who had canceled all engagements at the San Francisco Exposition, whither he had gone with Governor Dunne and the First Regiment of the Illinois National Guard to celebrate Illinois Day, he appointed a committee of three, composed of civilians, to decide on the issuing of a permit for the exhibition of the pictures. The Chicago Tribune had taken 1,000 feet of these news pictures and offered to donate the entire proceeds, to which it was entitled, to the Eastland relief fund. The committee recommended the refusal of the permit, “out of regard and respect for the wishes and feelings of those who have suffered deep bereavement and are mourning for their tragic loss.” The Mayor thus shifted responsibility to the shoulders of the committee.
The three upright citizens on that committee doubtless acted from a deep sympathy for the bereaved, and without bestowing any thought on ‘the inequity of their decision against moving pictures; for that decision clearly discriminates against news in moving pictures in favor of news as expressed by the written word, supported by illustrations from still photographs of various scenes connected with the disaster.
The whole crux of the matter lies in this: the moving picture is comparatively new and the plaything of censorship; the press, having long since broken the shackles of a worse censorship, devotes its liberty to the securing of full rights and liberty for all. The morning of the day has already dawned when moving pictures will play their important part for good in the formation of public opinion and in the uplift of the race; and, at no distant period, those who come after us will be less amazed at the defeat of the opposition which the moving picture has met than at the glorious things it has wrought and accomplished in the lives and destinies of men.
But Acting Mayor Moorhouse. and the three gentlemen on the committee who declared against the exhibition of the Eastland pictures in Chicago, can console themselves with knowledge of the fact that they are not alone. The New York World stands with them editorially, thusly:
Why was it necessary for the acting mayor of Chicago to forbid the use of moving pictures of the Eastland wreck and the drowning of her passengers? Would any sane manager have attempted such an outrage?
Anent which the Milwaukee Sentinel, in. the issue of July 28, answers editorially:
Yes; we see the moral point of that. But, at the same time, we newspapers must clear our minds of cant.
To be frank, is a ‘moving picture’ of that grewsome business any worse than the stationary photographic reproduction of the same horrors—such as, for instance, furnishes the ghastly, but appealing, front page ‘window dressing’ of the same issue of Mr. Pulitzer’s lively newspaper?
No, neighbor. We are all in it. The public likes to ‘sup full of horrors’ on such occasions, and will be served. When newspapers upbraid the ‘movie’ men for turning these tragedies to profitable pictorial account, it seems a bit like Satan rebuking sin.’
From Moving Pictures World, 28 August 1915
Acceding to requests from patrons, the Princess theater, at Canton, cancelled its booking of the Eastland disaster films.
28 August 1915 Advertisement by a Nashville film exchange
From Moving Pictures World, 4 September 1915
Facts and Comments
The opposition of certain constituted authorities against kinematographic records of the Eastland disaster has awakened some of our esteemed contemporaries to the parallel danger in censorship of the press. A newspaper in Western Pennsylvania in criticising the attempted censoring of the pictures of the Eastland catastrophe declares that “the censors do not yet seem to have arrived at the truth that the motion picture when it portrays incidents of every day life is news just as surely as anything that is printed in a newspaper.
The film is an engine of publicity of propaganda and truth with immense possibilities. It may be as dangerous to curb it as to curb the press, the platform or the pulpit. Comments like these are getting common in the daily press. The light is breaking.
Announcement from Alfred Hamburger Theaters.
July 26, 1925