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A collaboration between ACMI and the National Film & Sound Archive of Australia

War Pictures: Australians at the Cinema 1914-1918


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10 Mar – 26 Jul 2015

What did Australians see at their local cinema during the First World War? View a fascinating selection of shorts, newsreels, propaganda and feature films produced by the developing, local film industry, as well as a selection of international content. See how the war was presented on the big screen, and explore the melodramas and comedies that offered entertainment and escapism to those on the home front.

Between 1914 and 1918, cinema attendance was on the rise and the local film industry was expanding with over 50 Australian feature films produced during the period. While many of these films have been tragically lost, those that remain offer a rare glimpse into Australian life during this turbulent time.

As the war began, filmmakers rushed to make features about Australia’s involvement. Alfred Rolfe’s Hero of the Dardanelles (1915) told the story of Gallipoli, complete with landing scenes shot at Tamarama Beach in Sydney.

However, as the years progressed, war-weary audiences lost their taste for patriotic stories, and a new genre of home-grown comedies emerged featuring knockabout characters from the Australian bush. Throughout the war years, Hollywood dramas, serials, love stories and comedies were also staple attractions, and Charlie Chaplin was an international superstar.  

War Pictures offers a wide-ranging selection of local and international material, including a focus on Australia’s ‘lost films’.

Specially commissioned introductions and musical accompaniment offer contemporary audiences a chance to step back time and experience cinema as it was enjoyed during the First World War.


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