Public Domain Theater: The Lost World (& “Gertie the Dinosaur”)

Welcome to Public Domain Theater, your home for the wonderful world of films that have (in the United States, at least) fallen into the public domain, and are free for everyone to see!

This time around, we have for you two films that were groundbreaking efforts in the early days of animation. And they both involve dinosaurs, so +100 awesome points.

We have the 1925 feature The Lost World, based on the novel by Arthur Conan Doyle, about an expedition to a remote Amazon plateau where prehistoric creatures can be found. It takes a while to get going; you can skip over the first half hour, and pretty much any scene without dinosaurs in it, and not miss much. But the dinosaurs themselves are such stunning examples of stop-motion animation, they’re absolutely worth checking out.

Content Warning: one of the actors may be in blackface; it’s a little hard to tell.

To pair with this, we have Winsor McKay’s short film “Gertie the Dinosaur”. Not only did it innovate many animation techniques, but the way the cartoon’s highly-simplified in some respects and meticulously detailed in others, along with some “gosh, isn’t this a wonder?” showmanship, makes it a surprisingly endearing watch.

We’ve still got 68 years till Jurassic Park enters the public domain, so in the meantime, why not enjoy these dinosaurical marvels?

Opening Cartoon:

Feature Presentation: