From the tragedy and devastation of World War II, the 1940s saw the old world give way to modernity. In the world of film, the stylism of Film Noir gained popularity alongside Italian neo-realism, while Dior’s ‘new look’ revolutionised fashion.
This spring in the Australian Mediatheque, from the NFSA Collection, we look at the contrasts of this decade through our Robert Menzies’ Home Movies and Post World War II Fashions from the Newsreels of the Forties programs.
It might surprise many people to know that before his famous speeches, his Bradman-like innings as Australian Prime Minister or his knighthood, Sir Robert Menzies was an avid home movie enthusiast.
While they may not compare with Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, Robert Menzies’ Home Movies provide some rare glimpses into the state of Europe during World War II from the man who was at one time considered Winston Churchill’s successor.
Menzies captured colour footage of the Churchills relaxing, the Australian troops in Palestine, London during and after ‘The Blitz’, and the post-war devastation of Berlin. But more remarkable than seeing these world events is the knowledge that they were seen through the eyes of one of the major political players of World War II.
In Post World War II Fashions from the Newsreels of the Forties, we step back to the birth of the fashion industry in Australia. Striding towards a fresh, post-war outlook, models took to the catwalk to show off the latest designs from both Australia and overseas.
The 1940s saw the rise of The Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia, an industry body that enabled Australian designers to take their work to the world. In the program, we get a glimpse of the wide range and elegance of fashion at the time, as well as some delightfully fruity commentary.
Rounding off our spring collection is Stories from Mansfield Shire, the latest ACMI in the Regions program. Taking us on a tour of the communities of Mansfield, Tolmie and Jamieson in North-eastern Victoria, locals talk openly and humorously about living in the country and the community spirit that keeps them there.
Spring is the perfect time for a drive in the country but if you only have an hour to spare, you can start your adventure in the Mediatheque. It’s also worth noting that Mansfield boasts the first totally digital cinema in Victoria, the Mansfield Armchair Cinema and that, combined with the historic Mansfield Cinema, should be enticing for any enthusiast of the moving image.
The Australian Mediatheque is open daily at ACMI from 12-6pm. Entry is free.