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terça-feira, 15 de outubro de 2019

Pandemia Cinematográfica: a gripe espanhola e o cinema


Cinematic Pandemic: the Spanish flu and the movies

A Primeira Guerra Mundial terminou deixando 17 milhões de mortos, mas a sombra da morte não iria desaparecer com o Armistício em 11 de novembro de 1918. Desde o começo de 1918, uma mutação do vírus influenza estava se espalhando rapidamente pelo mundo – e era incrivelmente mortal. A segunda década do século XX veria ainda mais mortos, pois em 1919 houve o auge da pior pandemia desde a Peste Negra.

The first World War ended leaving 17 million people dead, but the shadow of death wasn’t going to disappear with the Armistice on November 11th, 1918. Since the beginning of 1918, a mutation of the influenza virus was spreading quickly throughout the world – and it was incredibly deadly. The second decade of the 20th century would see even more dead people, as 1919 was the climax of the worst pandemic since the Black Death.


A gripe espanhola ganhou esse nome porque a Espanha era um país neutro durante a guerra, e por isso sua imprensa não sofria censura. Assim, os jornais espanhóis podiam publicar informações sobre a nova pandemia – os demais países não publicavam sobre a doença para não afetar o moral das tropas. Foi dessa maneira que, embora não tenha se originado na Espanha, a pandemia ficou conhecida como gripe espanhola.

The Spanish flu got its name because Spain was a neutral country during the war, so its press wasn’t censored. That’s why Spanish newspapers were able to publish info about the new pandemic – the other countries couldn’t publish about the disease because it would affect the troops.  That’s how, although it did not appear first in Spain, the pandemic became known as Spanish flu.


As estimativas variam, mas ao redor do mundo, mais de 50 milhões de pessoas foram mortas pela gripe espanhola – alguns pesquisadores dizem que o número de vítimas pode ser de 100 milhões. Nos EUA, a doença deixou mais mortos do que a guerra – 675 mil norte-americanos sucumbiram. A doença foi espalhada pelos soldados voltando para casa do front, e a falta de higiene na época também não ajudou a parar a pandemia.

Estimations vary, but all over the world, more than 50 million people were killed by the Spanish flu – some researchers say that the amount of victims may be 100 million. In the US, the disease left five times more dead than the war – 675,000 Americans perished. The disease was easily spread by soldiers coming home from the front, and the lack of hygiene at the time also didn’t help stopping the pandemic.


Algumas das vítimas foram estrelas de cinema. Além disso, em 1918 o mundo do cinema havia acabado de passar por sua primeira grande revolução – o surgimento do longa-metragem – e a pandemia da gripe espanhola mostrou-se como a primeira grande ameaça externa à indústria do cinema.

Some of the victims were famous movie stars. Besides that, in 1918 the movie world had just passed through its first big revolution – the rise of feature film – and the Spanish flu pandemic posed the first big outside threat to the film industry.


Vítimas no cinema

Film casualties

Uma das primeiras “estrelas de cinema” foi também uma das primeiras pessoas a morrer de gripe espanhola. Andrée Lumière, filha de Auguste Lumière, tinha um ano de idade quando apareceu em dois filmes exibidos na primeiríssima sessão do cinematógrafo em 28 de dezembro de 1895. Andrée é a estrela do conhecido “Café da manhã do bebê (Le Repas de bébé)” e do nem tão celebrado “Le pêche aux poissons rouge”. Andrée contraiu a gripe mortal e faleceu em 1918, aos 24 anos.

One of the first “film stars” was also one of the earliest people to die from the Spanish flu. Andrée Lumière, Auguste Lumière’s daughter, was one year old when she appeared in two films presented in the very first movie exhibition on December 28th, 1895. Andrée is the star of both the well-known “Baby’s Breakfast (LeRepas de bébé)” and the not so celebrated “Le pêche aux poissons rouge”. Andrée caught the deadly flu and passed away in 1918, at age 24.

Andrèe Lumière, 1909
Myrtle Gonzalez já havia deixado Hollywood quando a gripe espanhola tirou sua vida. A atriz norte-americana de descendência mexicana trabalhou de 1913 a 1917, tanto em papéis pequenos quanto como protagonista – as mocinhas que ela interpretava em geral viviam em meio à natureza e superavam várias dificuldades. Myrtle Gonzalez deixou Holywood em 1917, quando se casou. Ela faleceu em 1918 com apenas 27 anos.

Myrtle Gonzalez had already left Hollywood when the Spanish flu took her life. The American actress of Mexican descent worked from 1913 to 1917, in both small parts and lead roles – the leading ladies she played often lived among nature and overcame several difficulties. Myrtle Gonzalez left Hollywood in 1917, when she got married. She died in 1918 at only 27.


A estrela de Harold Lockwood estava em ascensão quando sua vida foi interrompida pela gripe espanhola. Lockwood estava entre as 10 estrelas de cinema favoritas listadas pela revista Motion Picture em dezembro de 1918 – embora ele tivesse morrido em outubro aos 30 anos. Harold trabalhava no cinema desde 1911, e já havia passado pelos estúdios Nestor, Selig e Famous Players. Entre 1915 e 1917 ele fez 22 longas-metragens com a atriz May Allison, dos quais apenas um está disponível hoje. Acredita-se que Harold Lockwood tenha contraído o vírus da influenza enquanto vendia bônus de guerra.

Harold Lockwood’s star was on the rise when his life was cut short by the Spanish flu. Lockwood was among the 10 favorite film stars listed by the Motion Picture magazine in December 1918 – although he had died in October at age 30. Harold had been working on film since 1911, and had worked in studios like Nestor, Selig and Famous Players. Between 1915 and 1917 he made 22 features with actress May Allison, of which only one is readily available today. It’s believed that Harold Lockwood caught the influenza virus while selling war bonds.


A partida prematura de Vera Kholodnaya chocou a União Soviética. Considerada a primeira estrela de cinema russa, ela fez mais de cinquenta filmes, embora apenas cinco sobrevivam, sendo o mais conhecido filme dela, na verdade, a filmagem de seu funeral. Tendo Asta Nielsen como inspiração, Vera em geral trabalhava em melodramas baseados em canções populares e usava figurinos extravagantes. Por causa de sua popularidade, quando ela morreu surgiu um rumor dizendo que ela havia sido envenenada por seu amante francês porque ela era uma espiã bolchevique. Considerando que, em 1924, os bolcheviques mandaram destruir a maioria dos filmes dela, este rumor parece ser bem improvável.  
The early demise of Vera Kholodnaya shocked the Soviet Union. Considered to be the first Russian film star, she made over fifty films, although only five survive, being the most well known film of hers the actual footage of her funeral. Having Asta Nielsen as her main inspiration, Vera often worked in melodramas based on popular songs and wore extravagant costumes. Due to her popularity, at the time of her death a rumor appeared, saying that she had been poisoned by her French lover because she was a Bolshevik spy. Considering that, in 1924, the Bolsheviks ordered most of her films to be destroyed, this rumor sounds very unlikely.


Além destes, muitos outros trabalhadores do cinema pereceram. Devemos mencionar também o ator e diretor Joseph Kaufman, o ator e escritor indígena Dark Cloud, a atriz norte-americana Betty Gray, o ator britânico Julien L’Estrange e a atriz alemã Gilda Langer.

Besides those, many other film workers perished. We should also mention actor and director Joseph Kaufman, Indian actor and author Dark Cloud, American actress Betty Gray, English actor Julien L’Estrange and German actress Gilda Langer.

Gilda Langer
Algumas pessoas cujas vidas seriam retratadas em filmes também morreram de gripe espanhola: por exemplo, Jacinta e Francisco, duas das três crianças que viram a Virgem Maria em Portugal em 1917, morreram durante a pandemia. A história deles foi contada no filme de 1952 “A Virgem de Fátima”.

Some people whose lives would be told in movies later also died from the Spanish flu: for instance, Jacinta and Francisco, two of the three kids who saw the Virgin Mary in Portugal in 1917, passed away during the epidemic. Their story was later told in the 1952 Hollywood production “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima”.

Francisco and Jacinta
Estrelas de cinema que contraíram a gripe espanhola

Film stars who caught the Spanish flu

Como foi possível ver através das pobres vítimas na indústria do cinema, a gripe espanhola era mais mortal para pessoas entre 20 e 40 anos. Mulheres grávidas que contraíram a doença tiveram o pior prognóstico: mais de 20% delas não sobreviveram, e em algumas regiões 70% das grávidas infectadas morreram. Na população em geral, 20% dos contaminados morreriam.

As we could see with these unfortunate victims in the film industry, the Spanish flu was deadlier for people between 20 and 40 years of age. Pregnant women who caught the disease had the worst outcome: more than 20% of them didn’t survive, and in some regions 70% of all infected pregnant women died. In the general population, 20% of those contaminated would die.


Isso significa que o baque para a indústria do cinema poderia ter sido muito maior. Algumas das maiores estrelas da época contraíram a doença, mas se recuperaram. Mary Pickford pegou a gripe mas melhorou rapidamente, enquanto Lillian Gish teve febre alta, mas se recuperou com a ajuda de um médico e duas enfermeiras que cuidavam dela dia e noite.

This means that the blow for the film industry could have been much bigger. Some of the biggest stars of the time contracted the disease, but recovered. Mary Pickford caught the flu but recovered quickly, while Lillian Gish had a high bout of fever, but recovered with the help of a doctor and two nurses who took care of her 24/7.


Ainda um adolescente, Walt Disney contraiu a gripe espanhola – e isso pode ter salvado sua vida. Disney deveria ir para o campo de batalha como motorista de ambulância, mas ficou doente e, quando se recuperou, a guerra havia acabado.

Still a teenager, Walt Disney contracted the Spanish flu – and it may have saved his life. Disney was supposed to leave to the war front as an ambulance driver, but he got sick and, when he recovered, the war was over.
A young Walt Disney
Margaret Dumont havia se aposentado dos palcos em 1910 para se casar com um milionário, mas a gripe espanhola colocou um fim na união quando ambos contraíram a doença, e ele faleceu. Recuperada e viúva, Margaret retornou aos palcos e começou a fazer comédias. Nos filmes, ela ficou conhecida por seu trabalho ao lado dos irmãos Marx.

Margaret Dumont had retired from the stage in 1910 to marry a millionaire, but the Spanish flu put an ending to the union as both contracted the disease, and he died. Recovered and widowed, Margaret returned to the stages and started appearing in comedies. In the movies, she became known for her work alongside the Marx brothers.

A young Margaret Dumont
Em 1920, Greta Garbo, então com 14 anos, perdeu o pai, vítima de gripe espanhola. Muitas fontes dizem que ela também contraiu a doença e, felizmente, sobreviveu.

In 1920, Greta Garbo, then only 14, lost her father to the Spanish flu. Many sources claim that she also contracted the disease and, fortunately, survived.

A teen-age Greta Garbo
Embora ele não tenha a ver com o cinema, o presidente norte-americano Woodrow Wilson também contraiu a gripe espanhola, e sua doença pode ter mudado o rumo da história: como ele não pôde participar de todas as reuniões antes do Tratado de Versalhes ser assinado, o presidente francês Georges Clemenceau se tornou interinamente o líder do grupo dos vencedores da guerra – e exigiu que os alemães pagassem um preço alto pela derrota, uma exigência que certamente foi importante para a ascensão do nazismo e do desejo de revanche entre os alemães.

Although he had nothing to do with film, US president Woodrow Wilson also caught the Spanish flu, and his illness may have changed history: because he couldn’t attend all meetings before the Treaty of Versailles was signed, French president Georges Clemenceau became for a while the leader of the group of war winners – and he demanded the Germans to pay a high price for losing the war, a demand that certainly was important for the rise of Nazism and of the German wish for a rematch.


O cinema durante a gripe espanhola

The movies during the Spanish flu

Com muitas de suas estrelas contraindo a doença, a indústria do cinema sofreu um duro golpe com a gripe espanhola. Em muitos locais, toda a indústria do cinema foi deixada de sobreaviso, com cinemas interditados – porque eles eram locais fechados, onde o risco de contágio era alto.

With many of its stars contracting the disease, the movie industry suffered a hard blow with the Spanish flu. In many places, the whole film industry was left in standstill, with movie theaters interdicted – because they are closed places, where the risk of inoculation was high.

New York Times, October 10th, 1918
De acordo com Ben Strassfeld, autor do artigo “Infectious Media: Debating the Role of Movie Theaters in Detroit during the Spanish Influenza of 1918”, 60% de todos os estúdios de cinema na Califórnia pararam todas as suas atividades enquanto a pandemia se espalhava. Os distribuidores pararam suas atividades por um mês. A revista Photoplay estimou que 80% dos cinemas fecharam por pelo menos uma semana. Muitas pessoas pensaram que era o fim daquela indústria recém-nascida.

According to Ben Strassfeld, author of the article “Infectious Media: Debating the Role of Movie Theaters in Detroit during the Spanish Influenza of 1918”, 60% of all movie studios in California ceased their production completely while the pandemic was on the rise. Distributors stopped their activities for a month. Photoplay magazine estimated that 80% of all movie theaters closed for at least a week. Many people thought it was the end of the newborn movie industry.

Detroit Free Press, October 18th, 1918
Isso não significava que não havia filmes sendo exibidos. Os nickelodeons ressurgiram por um tempo, e havia pessoas que acreditavam piamente que os cinemas não deveriam ser fechados durante a pandemia: eles poderiam ser usados para fins educativos, ensinando o público sobre a nova doença.

This doesn’t mean that there were no movies being shown. The nickelodeons resurfaced for a little while, and there were people who strongly believed that movie theaters shouldn’t be closed down during the pandemic: they could be used for educational purposes, teaching the public about the new disease.

Chicago, 1918
Como narra Strassfeld, os cinemas em Detroit exibiam slides educativos antes do filme e também exibiam filmes educativos. Detroit era então a capital dos filmes educativos, e um deles, “Spreading Spanish Influenza”, usava técnicas de contação de histórias para passar a mensagem – algo a que o público e os estudiosos não estavam acostumados, porque acreditavam que filmes fúteis precisavam contar uma história, enquanto filmes educativos sérios não precisavam disso.

As Strassfeld chronicles, movie theaters in Detroit exhibited educational slides before the movie and also showed educational movies. Detroit was then the capital of educational films, and one of them, “Spreading Spanish Influenza”, used storytelling techniques to spread the message – something that the public and the scholars weren’t used to, because they believed that frivolous movies needed storytelling, while serious educational films didn’t.


Em Detroit e outras cidades, os donos de cinemas não gostaram de ter de fechar seus negócios. Por isso eles concordaram em usar os cinemas para exibir filmes educativos – era a única maneira que eles tinham para manter os negócios abertos. Quando os piores dias da gripe passaram, os cinemas voltaram à programação normal, exibindo filmes para entretenimento – mas agora eles sabiam como conquistar a respeitabilidade que o cinema sempre havia buscado. A gripe espanhola mostrou que os filmes podiam tanto entreter quanto informar.

In Detroit and other cities, movie theater owners didn’t like the mandatory closing of their businesses. That’s why they agreed to repurpose the movie theaters to show educational pictures – it was the only way they could keep their businesses open. As the worst days of the flu went by, movie theaters went back to their normal schedule of entertainment pictures – but now they knew how to gain the respectability the film business had always been looking for. The Spanish flu showed that films could both entertain and inform.


A gripe espanhola no cinema

The Spanish flu at the movies

Surpreendentemente, mesmo tendo sido devastadora, a gripe espanhola não é muito usada em roteiros, ao contrário da guerra mundial que lhe foi contemporânea. No IMDb há apenas 19 filmes, documentários ou episódios de séries listados na TAG “gripe espanhola”, e há 1939 produções com a TAG “Primeira Guerra Mundial”.

Surprisingly, as much as it was devastating, the Spanish flu is not often used as a plot device, unlike the contemporary first World War. IMDb has only 19 movies, documentaries or TV show episodes listed with the tag “Spanish flu”, while it also has 1939 productions labeled with the “World War One” tag.


Um dos filmes sobre a pandemia é o filme para TV britânico “Spanish Flu: the Forgotten Fallen”, de 2009. O filme usa esse título porque a pandemia foi, mesmo durante o século XX, quase esquecida. É, de fato, mas nobre morrer defendendo sua pátria do que morrer por causa da gripe – por isso os mortos durante a pandemia não foram celebrados como mártires.

One of the films about the pandemic is the 2009 English TV movie “Spanish Flu: the Forgotten Fallen”. The film takes its title from the fact that the pandemic was, even during the 20th century, nearly forgotten. It is, indeed, more noble to die defending your homeland than to die because of the flu – so the ones killed during the pandemic were not celebrated as martyrs.

"Spanish Flu: the Forgotten Fallen", 2009
Além disso, como escreve o autor Mark Honigsbaum, foi só a partir dos anos 70 que o mundo percebeu quão mortal foi a pandemia – quando, pela primeira vez, pesquisadores disseram que mais de 50 milhões morreram de gripe espanhola. Hoje, estima-se que a gripe espanhola matou entre 50 e 100 milhões – a Peste Negra da Idade Média matou entre 40 e 70 milhões de pessoas. Mesmo se um dia calcularmos as mortes com precisão e descobrirmos que a gripe espanhola não foi a pandemia mais mortal de todos os tempos, não podemos ignorar como ela abalou o mundo e a nascente indústria do cinema.

Besides that, as author Mark Honigsbaum writes, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the world actually realized how deadly the pandemic was – for the first time the researchers talked about more than 50 million dead due to the Spanish flu. Now, it is estimated that the Spanish flu killed between 50 and 100 million – the Black Death in the Middle Ages killed between 40 and 70 million people. Even if some day we calculate the casualties with precision and find out that the Spanish flu wasn’t the deadliest pandemic of all time, we can’t ignore how it shook the world and the nascent film industry.


References:

Ben Strassfeld (2017): Infectious Media: Debating the Role of Movie Theaters in Detroit during the Spanish Influenza of 1918, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, DOI: 10.1080/01439685.2017.1300002

Benjamin, Kathy. 14 Famous People Who Survived the 1918 Flu Pandemic. At Mental Floss: https://mentalfloss.com/article/58376/14-famous-people-who-survived-1918-flu-pandemic

Honigsbaum, Mark. Why historians ignored the Spanish flu. At The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/why-historians-ignored-the-spanish-flu-101950

Influenza Encyclopedia: http://www.influenzaarchive.org


Lovett, David A. Tem Famous People Who Survived the 1918 Flu. At Smithsonian Magazine: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-famous-people-who-survived-1918-flu-180965336/

This is my contribution to The Anniversary blogathon, hosted by the Classic Movie Blog Association, celebrating 10 years!


7 comentários:

Caftan Woman disse...

"I had a little bird his name was Enza
I opened the window and in flew Enza."

The above gruesome little rhyme comes to mind at this time of year; flu shot time.

So often even recent history is forgotten and you did us all a great service with your article on the Spanish flu pandemic and motion pictures. I will be sharing this with friends. Well done!

Marianne disse...

Fascinating blog post. I have heard and read a bit about the Spanish flu pandemic, but I hadn't read anything about its effect on the film industry specifically. Thanks so much for this informative post.
Marianne

FlickChick disse...

What a great post. This was such a fascinating part of history. While researching some family history a while ago we could not figure out why a male relative dies so young since he had not served in the war and then we remembers - the Spanish flu. Bookmark this one for next year's CMBA awards!

Citizen Screen disse...

Terrific topic, interesting information, and a great read, Le.

Aurora

John/24Frames disse...

Fascinating read. Appreciate your joining in the blogathon.

The Lady Eve disse...

An excellent topic, Le. And so interesting. Great research and observations. I'm not sure if "Downton Abbey" is shown in your area, but I'm reminded of an early episode in which one of the major character's fiancee died, and the cause was Spanish flu. I remember being impressed that that aspect of WWI era history was included.

Silver Screenings disse...

I never thought about it before, but you're right – there are very few films that talk about this deadly flu epidemic.

I loved, LOVED your essay and all the research you presented. Thanks for sharing this.

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