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Neon (2015)

ACMI presents


Lawrence Johnston | Australia | | PG

Award-winning filmmaker Lawrence Johnston (Eternity, Night, Fallout) traces the history and enduring allure of neon.

A story of dazzle and glow, scale and fragility, art and commerce, a documentary love letter to neon lighting and its vivid, singular history.

The Age

Lawrence Johnston's Neon is a visually gorgeous and exhaustively well-researched celebration of the invention, aesthetics, commercial applications and social history of the neon sign. Over a century, its visual beauty, design and construction methods changed very little, making neon one the greenest forms of light ever produced and an enduring form of colour and light in the cityscapes of our (night)lives. The evolution of neon mirrored the evolution of global commerce and society throughout the twentieth century into this new millennium.

Exploring the history and heritage of the form, this sumptuous visual travelogue follows the invention and popularisation of neon in locations from Las Vegas to New York, Hong Kong to Havana. Johnston interviews some of the practitioners who have designed and produced neon, with its myriad of colour and stylised beauty, for commercial signage, to the works of international artists, Tracey Emin and Bruce Nauman. He also speaks to the heritage activists who champion the cultural value of neon and "save" signs at places like the Boneyard in Las Vegas even as the proliferation of energy-intensive LED signs hastens neon's unwelcome disappearance.

Format: Digital
Language: English
Source: Ronin Films
Courtesy: Ronin Films
Duration: 84 min

Learn more

READ: Lawrence Johnston Finds A World Of Wonder With Neon
Dov Kornits, Film Ink, Jun 2016

READ: Neon explores the glory days of the world's illuminated signs
Philippa Hawker, Sydney Morning Herald, May 2016

LISTEN: The flashy past of Neon lights
Michael Williams, Radio National, May 2016


17 Dec 2020 – 11 Feb 2021


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84 mins



Mild animated nudity

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