German war films
As the war raged on, all the combatant nations quickly realised the power of film. Germany used its film industry to try to sway the hearts and minds of neutral countries – particularly the United States. This image is from the American trade journal, The Moving Picture World, published in November 1915, and is part of the Henry Gore Collection. It is an example of the feature film propaganda produced by the German film industry for exhibition in the United States, which was still neutral at the time. These types of films was quickly banned from being shown in New Zealand.
Bringing the audience into the picture
The experience of the cinema-going public remains perhaps the most challenging aspect of understanding film and audiences in New Zealand and Australia during the Great War. This image, taken circa 1910 in an unknown New Zealand cinema, is a rare glimpse back at a packed house.
“The Hero of the Dardanelles”
“Produced with the wholehearted co-operation of the military and naval authorities,” The Hero of the Dardanelles, was a feature-length narrative film made to encourage men to enlist. It premiered at Melbourne’s Majestic Theatre on 17 July 1915, unfortunately, only the first 11 minutes of the 40-minute film survive.
Mutiny of the Bounty: Daybill
The daybill, or poster, for the first known cinematic dramatisation of the story Mutiny of the Bounty, directed by Raymond Longford (1916).
Charlie Chaplin at the Sydney Show?
Was Charlie Chaplin at Sydney’s 1916 Royal Easter Show? Yes, but not the real Charlie Chaplin. Just one of thousands of impersonators, as Chaplin’s worldwide fame grew.
This two-minute clip is taken from the Australian-made 1916 silent comedy Officer 666, based on a Broadway play. The director, Fred Niblo, also stars as millionaire Travers Gladwin. To foil an art theft, Gladwin disguises himself as Police Officer 666. However, one of the thieves arrives disguised as Gladwin, and merry confusion ensues.
As war raged across Europe, and Hollywood began building cinema audiences internationally, the Australian film industry was thriving. An impressive 16 feature films were released in 1916. Officer 666 was one of four features released by theatrical company J.C. Williamson. Williamson aimed to film hit US plays before the American companies, and then import them into Australia.
'If England wants a hand, well, here it is'
Comes a message o’er the ocean
A message to our sunny land
England calls Australia’s soldiers
We must answer her command
If England wants a hand, well, here it is…
The lyrics of this rousing, patriotic ballad were written by one of Australia’s most popular vaudeville (music hall) performers, with music by a noted Sydney songwriter. 'If England Wants a Hand, Well, Here It Is' was used on the soundtrack of the 1981 Australian feature film Gallipoli.