Hindenburg Disaster – 3.1 – Pathé News (Zeppelin Crash Titlecard)


Pathé News

The Official Story

(Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Coverage)


Pathé News was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 to 1970 in the United Kingdom. Its founder, Charles Pathé, was a pioneer of moving pictures in the silent era. The Pathé News archive is known today as British Pathé. Its collection of news film and movies is fully digitised and available online.


Its roots lie in 1896 Paris, France, when Société Pathé Frères was founded by Charles Pathé and his brothers, who pioneered the development of the moving image. Charles Pathé adopted the national emblem of France, the cockerel, as the trademark for his company. After the company, now called Compagnie Générale des Éstablissements Pathé Frère Phonographes & Cinématographes, invented the cinema newsreel with Pathé-Journal. French Pathé began its newsreel in 1908 and opened a newsreel office in Wardour Street, London in 1910.

The newsreels were shown in the cinema and were silent until 1928. At first, they ran for about four minutes and were issued fortnightly. During the early days, the camera shots were taken from a stationary position but the Pathé newsreels captured events such as Franz Reichelt’s fatal parachute jump from the Eiffel Tower and suffragette Emily Davison’s fatal injury by a racehorse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.

During the First World War, the cinema newsreels were called the Pathé Animated Gazettes, and for the first time this provided newspapers with competition. After 1918, British Pathé started producing a series of cinemazines, in which the newsreels were much longer and more comprehensive. By 1930, British Pathé was covering news, entertainment, sport, culture, and women’s issues through programmes including the Pathétone Weekly, the Pathé Pictorial, the Gazette and Eve’s Film Review.

In 1927, the company sold British Pathé (both the feature film and the newsreel divisions) to First National. (French Pathé News continued until 1980, and the library is now part of the Gaumont-Pathé collection.) Pathé changed hands again in 1933, when it was acquired by British International Pictures, which was later known as Associated British Picture Corporation. In 1958, it was sold again to Warner Bros. and became Warner-Pathé. Pathé eventually stopped producing the cinema newsreel in February 1970 as it could no longer compete with television. During the newsreels’ run, the narrators included Bob Danvers-Walker, Dwight Weist, Dan Donaldson, André Baruch and Clem McCarthy among others.

American Pathé News

The British and American newsreel companies separated in 1921 when the American company was sold. In 1947, the film assets of the successor companies of Pathé News, Inc. were purchased by Warner Bros. from RKO Radio Pictures, which had acquired them in 1931. Warners, as had RKO before them, continued to produce the theatrical newsreel Pathé News, its title changing from RKO-Pathé News to Warner-Pathé News Warner also produced a series of 38 theatrical short subjects and 81 issues of the News Magazine of the Screen series, which added to the Pathé film properties and were part of the company’s extensive film library. Producer/editor Robert Youngson was primarily responsible for these series and won two Academy Awards for them.

In 1956, Warner Bros. discontinued the production of the theatrical newsreel and sold the Pathé News film library, the 38 theatrical short subjects, the Pathé News Magazine of the Screen, the crowing rooster trademark and the copyrights and other properties to Studio Films, Inc.—shortly thereafter named Pathé Pictures, Inc.— At this time, the new owners, Barnett Glassman, Samuel A. Costello and Joseph P. Smith acquired ownership and subsequently re-branded the name and film properties of both companies to Pathé News, Inc.

A 50% interest in the Pathé News Film Library was sold to Sherman Grinberg in 1958. The Sherman Grinberg Film Library licensed the marketing rights to the Pathé News Film Library. Pathé News, Inc retained the sole exclusive right to sell the library. The series of 38 theatrical short subjects and 81 issues of the News Magazine of the Screen series, Milestones of the Century, the Men of Destiny series, Showtime at the Apollo, as well as many other titles are marketed by Historic Films Archive, LLC.

In 2016, the children of Joseph P. Smith, acquired 100% of the stock. Today, Pathé News, Inc. is a family-owned private company.

Other U.S. newsreel series included Paramount News (1927–1957), Fox Movietone News (1928–1963), Hearst Metrotone News/News of the Day (1914–1967), Universal Newsreel (1929–1967) and The March of Time (1935–1951).

Pathé News
(Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Coverage)

Cameraman William Deeke filmed the scenes in this newsreel. The footage shows the Hindenburg making its final sharp turn to starboard while dropping ballast three times before skidding to port and dropping her landing lines. The narrator describes the Hindenburg as a “puny plaything in the mighty grip of fate”, foreshadowing the stern-heaviness and dumping of water ballast as a “grim note of impending tragedy.” Deeke had focused the camera on the ground crew before he stopped filming. Although his camera was focused on the airship the moment it caught fire, the camera malfunctioned and it became necessary for him to set up a hand crank, which he only started to use when ship’s tail was on the ground and the side collapsed inward. As a result, the Pathé News reel is actually the shortest in showing the crash. The footage also suffers from slight camera shake. The newsreel was edited to show the ground crew footage prior to the fire with an explosion sound effect, giving the false impression the ship was exploding while the camera was focused to the ground. Two distinct still frames flash to transition between the ground crew scene and the footage of the fire; these appear to be from footage taken earlier of the ship’s landing approach which was edited out of the final reel.

Source: Wikipedia

The Truth


A false flag is a covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group, or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility.


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