Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Australian cinema

I was listening to Radio Australia this morning. Every day they have an "On this day" feature, which for the most part is limited to entertainment; ie. singers or film types born on this day, or songs or movies released. Some of the birthdays are for people famous the world over, but they also acknoledge Aussies I'd never heard of, such as Ken G. Hall, who was born on this day in 1901. I'd never heard of him, but apparently he was the first Australian to win an Academy Award, for his documentary short Kokoda Front Line! about the front lines in the fight against the Japanese on the island of New Guinea.

I didn't know much about Australian cinema, because really, how many famous Australian movies are there? Most of the Australian films we could name, not counting Hollywood or British movies set in Australia, would probably be more recent stuff, starting maybe with Crocodile Dundee. But Wikipedia claims that it was the Aussies who made the first feature-length film, a 1906 movie called The Story of the Kelly Gang based on legendary Australian highwayman Ned Kelly. It ran 60 minutes, but as with most old movies, most of the footage has been lost and only about a third survives.

Aussies have made a substantial contribution to world cinema by leaving Australia, of course. Nowadays we've got actors like Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman; back in the studio era it was Errol Flynn. Flynn rarely played Aussies; in a western like Dodge City he was portrayed as an Irish immigrant, and of course played Brits in movies like The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Rod Taylor is also Australian-born, and got to play an Australian in The V.I.P.s. I actually didn't know until now that Peter Finch was born in Australia, too.

1 comment:

Kokoda said...

The Kokoda Trail is now a honey-pot attracting clans from distance villagers trying to cash in on the trekking industry. Pristine jungle is being cleared for campsites, toilets are being sited on waterways and disputes are becoming the order of the day.Kokoda Treks