Marvellous Melbourne 1915

An early documentary film about the City of Melbourne, then the interim capital city of Australia. Made in 1910.

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The director Charles Cozens Spencer was famous for his bushranger films: “Captain Starlight” (Robbery Under Arms), “Captain Midgnight – The Bush King”, “The Life and Adventures of John Vane, The Notorious Australian Bushranger”, “Dan Morgan, The Terror of the Australian Bush” (Mad Dog Morgan). He also made the 1915 Film “The Shepherd of the Southern Cross.” He introduced Australia’s greatest silent film-maker, Raymond Longford, to the business. He died in September 1930 (he shot himself after going on a killing spree in Canada).

Special contents of this edition copyright 2010 Shane I Sullivan. Permission to use these items is granted under creative commons licence.

A Trip through Lassen Volcanic National Park 1918

American silent documentary with some pretty good footage of Mt. Lassen in action

This film was made by J.J. Hammer, a resident of Red Bluff, California and was possibly released on 1918 as part of a film on the (then) new Lassen Volcanic National Park. It captures some amazing footage of Lassen Peak steaming and erupting, along with brief glimpses of the summit crater itself. Having film means we can see the volcanic processes that happened during the eruption—no more is it just a single moment captured, like in a still photo.


Sarawak, Malaysia, 1913 ‘wild women’ (orang asli)

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Finally the filmparty meet the women they were searching for in the jungle which they termed ‘wild’ for some reason, may be because they were not too friendly. I understand that the term: wild women is resented now, but it is from an almost 100 years old documentary film. The film tells more about how Westerners were informed about exotic places before WW2 than giving an authentic image. I’m told that orang asli are called pribumi in that country. A few hundred viewers have given their often damaging comments on this 9,5mm silent documentary film (sound track added by me) . The film was heavily damaged and I haven’t seen a similar copy being offered for sale the last decade.The wooden camera used in some instances suggests it was taken long ago. In fact this is one third of a longer documentary film released at the time. I have not been able to find this film in prewar 9,5mm catalogs. The 1932 Wild women of Borneo film is with actors and this documentary is not.
Finally I may refer those who maintain that there were no tigers in Borneo to assertions of zoologists like Gersi, Nieuwenhuis and Abbott that there were at one time. This film is almost a century old.
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