Animation Artifacts 10 Sep 2006 09:03 am

La Grande Ourse

– 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 Gô in the Birds, 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 min. 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.

(Like all images on the page, just click any of them to enlarge to a legible size.)

One Response to “La Grande Ourse”

  1. on 10 Sep 2006 at 9:05 pm 1.Emru said …

    Thanks for this, Michael. I did a little digging and found that the film is available from the French Amazon website as part of the Le Roi et l’oiseau 2-disc collector’s edition ( — but it’s a Region 2 DVD, so you’d better have a multi-region/format player handy. The Canadian site has Le Roi et l’oiseau on a Region 1 DVD ( but it doesn’t say if it’s the same edition or not.

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