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Civilization

Civilization is a 1916 American pacifist allegorical drama film produced by Thomas H. Ince, written by C. Gardner Sullivan and Edward Sloman, and directed by Ince, Reginald Barker and Raymond B. West. The story involves a submarine commander who refuses to fire at a civilian ocean liner supposedly carrying ammunition for his country's enemies. The film was a big-budget spectacle that was compared to both The Birth of a Nation and the paintings of Jean-François Millet. The film was a popular success and was credited by the Democratic National Committee with helping to re-elect Woodrow Wilson as the U.S. President in 1916. The film was also one of the first to depict Jesus Christ as a character in a motion picture, leading some to criticize the depiction as in "poor taste."

Plot

The film opens with the outbreak of a war in the previously peaceful kingdom of Wredpryd. Count Ferdinand is the inventor of a new submarine who is assigned to command the new ship in battle. The King of Wredpryd orders the Count to sink the "ProPatria" ("for my country"), a civilian ship that is believed to be carrying munitions as well as civilian passengers. In his mind's eye, the Count sees a vision of what would happen if he sent a torpedo crashing into the liner, and he recoils. He refuses to follow his orders, saying he is "obeying orders -- from a Higher Power." Realizing his crew will carry out the orders, the Count fights with the crew and blows up his submarine, sending it to the bottom of the sea.

Awards