A (short) Film Rumination: The Airship Destroyer (variant title: The Battle in the Clouds), Walter R. Booth (1909)

8/10 (Very Good)

tagline (a remarkably prescient one): “War in the Air! Possibilities of the Future! And actual motion picture prediction of the ideas of Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and other powerful writers of imaginative fiction.  Shows what might happen in the near future when aeoplanes have been perfected to the point of being practicable engines of war.”

Walter R. Booth’s short film The Airship Destroyer (1909) is one of many gems I’ve found available to watch on Internet Movie Archive (WATCH IT HERE).  It is considered the first dramatic science fiction film made in England — with that in mind watch it (at least) for its historical importance for the genre.

More importantly, the short is also quite inventive and exciting — in the early silent film sort of way — and the skies are filled with DIRIGIBLES!  It’s quite surprising how prescient the topic of the effects of air bombardment would be for future wars (not so much WWI but definitely WWII).

The plot follows a young inventor during a war where dirigibles bombard the English countryside.  The home of the inventor’s love interest is destroyed and he launches an air torpedo (a missile) which destroys the aircraft.  The inventor gets married to his sweetheart after valiantly saving the day and everyone is happy…

This is a remarkable (historically important) short film.


3 thoughts on “A (short) Film Rumination: The Airship Destroyer (variant title: The Battle in the Clouds), Walter R. Booth (1909)

  1. I was surprised at the quality of the filming, camera work and particularly editing. Despite some of the stage/play look, it had the feel and pace of a much later film.

    • Yeah, virtually every film made in 1909 feels like its on a stage — but I LOVE the images of the dirigibles and the editing is quite fast which reminds me of the action sequences of later films… It feels ahead of its time for sure.

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