Explosive Animated Short: The Flying Sailor

A French and Norwegian ship collided in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in December 1917. This disaster is considered one of the biggest man-made explosions in history. An account of Charles Mayers, a passing sailor affected by the blast, is documented in the local maritime museum. Mayers claimed to have been on the dock one minute, and the next minute, he awoke in a field naked except for one boot on his foot. However, some historians believe Mayers was on one of the ships, not the docks, as he states. Regardless, Mayers story inspired filmmakers Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby to create the animated short film The Flying Sailor.

The Flying Sailor follows an unnamed sailor affected by a massive explosion. As the sailor is tossed through the air, his clothes are ripped from him, and he contemplates his existence. Although the short begins like a slapstick cartoon, it becomes a contemplative and beautiful visual reminder of how fragile and miraculous human life is.

Watch the 2023 Academy Award-nominated animated short film, The Flying Sailor, below:

Nominated for Best Animated Short Film. In a short film by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, two ships collide in a harbor, sending a passing sailor skyward as he contemplates the wonder and fragility of existence.

Read an interview with the filmmakers at

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