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File:Gertie The Dinosaur small 3750.jpg

"Gertie will now show that she isn't afraid of me and take me for a ride."


A groudbreaking 1914 theatrical short subject from the mind of Little Nemo creator Winsor McCay, "Gertie the Dinosaur" is a landmark short in personality animation, influencing many artists and future animation pioneers, including Otto Messmer, Paul Terry and Walt Disney.

The short (well, the non-Vaudeville version) starts off with Winsor visiting a museum with several of his fellow cartoonists, making a bet that he can "make the dinosaurs live again by a series of hand-drawn cartoons." Winsor and his assistants promptly begin work on the cartoon, showing it to the cartoonists six months later. The animation then shows Gertie herself, going about activities such as eating a pumpkin that Winsor throws to her, or throwing a woolly mammoth into a nearby lake (he counters by squirting her, which she doesn't take well).

The reason for the cartoon being made spawned from criticism of Winsor's earlier shorts "Little Nemo" and "How A Mosquito Operates", with skeptical audience members claiming that he cheated and traced off of live action footage to animate the human characters — so Winsor proceeded to push his mastery of perspective and mass to the limits and created something that you couldn't get from live action. And boy, did he succeed.

The cartoon came in two versions: the full version with Winsor appearing in a live action opening, and the roadshow version which only has the Gertie footage. One studio even created their own unauthorized version of the film!

See the full, unabridged version of the cartoon here, on this very wiki; or in two parts on YouTube here and here; or download the entire cartoon from the Internet Archive.

Gertie was to receive a sequel short called Gertie on Tour, but it was ultimately left unfinished, and sadly only a fragment of it has survived, barely lasting over a minute.

This short holds the place of No. 6 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons list.

Walt Disney World has also made a little tribute to Gertie, via a life-sized replica of her serving as an ice cream parlor in Disney's Hollywood Studios.


Tropes used in Gertie the Dinosaur include:
  • Big Eater: Gertie eats a rock, a tree that's bigger than she is, and sucks a lake completely dry.
  • Black Hole Belly: But her size doesn't increase.
  • Doing It for the Art: Winsor McCay hand-drew every single frame. Without cels.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Gertie eats a pumpkin, a tree (roots and all), and a rock. She also drinks a lake dry.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Possibly the earliest example — Winsor himself would actually appear on screen with Gertie.
  • The Silent Age of Animation
  • Sea Monster: Irritates Gertie early in the animation.
  • Somewhere a Palaeontologist Is Crying: But who cares?
    • Most paleontologists actually see the historical merit this short has on their science.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: George McManus calls Gertie a "dinosaurus"; she appears to be an Apatosaurus or something similar. A dragon-like "four-winged lizard" also flits by.
    • Then Microraptor was discovered...
      • Actually, it was once believed that there was a dinosaur called Dinosaurus, but it's now called Plateosaurus, and looked somewhat like Gertie.
    • A woolly mammoth shows up as well.
  • Stock Footage: Numerous frames are repeated in the animation part.
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