Carving Anzac Day
An Anzac Day cinema advertisement encouraging Australians to not only mark Anzac Day as a day of significance but to 'carve’ its meaning into the nation’s psyche.
Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
Catalogue Reference: NFSA title: 249455
This is all the footage that survives of a silent black and white cinema advertisement from about 1916. It begins with scenes of Australian soldiers in trenches under and fire wearing gas masks. It is easy enough to conclude that it is re-enacted, particularly when we see the peaceful surrounds, tidy military uniforms and a dog wandering about the ‘battlefield’. It was likely shot at an army barracks and the trenches were probably part of the new recruit’s training regime.
This film provides evidence that the action at Gallipoli was seen as an event of definitive national importance at a relatively early stage. It is also valuable as an example of a war propaganda film from the silent era.
The film uses emotive imagery to stir the feelings of the public in support of the soldiers and the commemoration of their deeds. The presence of smoke and gas masks is a direct reminder to the audience of the use of chemical weapons (mustard gas) by German forces on the Western Front, something that caused outrage and widespread condemnation.
The dramatic language of the title card at the end of the clip is evidence that those who organised the early celebrations of Anzac Day (the first was on 25 April 1916, the first anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli) saw the significance of the action at Gallipoli as having a symbolic power of importance for future generations of Australians.
Carving Anzac Day
Soldiers, some wearing gas masks, move through trenches with 'gas'
Intertitle: A nation's manhood straining at its task - - of carving ANZAC DAY deep-cut in the Calendar of Time