Books &Illustration &John Canemaker 15 May 2012 06:40 am

Les Passagers de la Grande Ourse

- Back in 2006, I posted a couple of pages of this book and, having found the film now on line, I thought it time for a new look at this Paul Grimault classic from 1942.

– In 1942 Paul Grimault released an animated film entitled Les Passagers De “La Grande Ourse.” The film had actually been completed in 1939 and titled The Passengers of the Great Bear, but because of the outbreak of WWII the film suffered setbacks and was released in 1942 with the new title.

Several years ago, John Canemaker gave me a gem of an attractive little book that was illustrated with images from the film. Grimault was the father of French animation, and I’d always assumed that this film was a feature. In fact, it was a nine minute short, but it was important historically because it was the first big French animated production trying to out-Disney Disney.

The story is very unlike American films. There’s a fanciful sense of imagination that is true of many French cartoons. In summation the story is:

A little boy and his dog sneak into a shipyard and are grabbed by a crane which places them on a ship in dock, loading. This ship, “The Grand Ourse,” is an oddity in that it is fitted like a zeppelin with balloons to lift it into the air.

Boy and dog arrive in their compartment, accidentally, as the vessel starts to take-off into the sky. Adventures ensue with the boy and dog confronted by a restive eagle and a deaf and dumb robot

Here are some of the pages of the book:

A carbon copy of the credits for the film was enclosed within the book when I received it.

It was copied onto one of those pieces of paper that could only be European, sort of a tissue that seemed delicate.

That’s attached to the left.


This past week I found a nice copy of the film posted on YouTube. You can watch it.below, and see how it compares to the published book.

Les Passagers de la Grande Ourse (Paul Grimault – 1941)

3 Responses to “Les Passagers de la Grande Ourse”

  1. on 15 May 2012 at 10:02 pm 1.The Gee said …

    I just checked the indiegogo page for “Poe”.

    Looks good so far.

    I do hope people can help push it close to your original goal, exceeding the stated amount. That would hopefully allow for you to do more.

    Best of fortune funding the project!

  2. on 15 May 2012 at 10:03 pm 2.The Gee said …

    aaaand I figure why not
    repeat the URL just in case someone hasn’t seen it lately or ever.

  3. on 16 May 2012 at 2:07 pm 3.Ray Kosarin said …

    Very charming. (And unmistakably French!)

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