Historic First World War footage published on ASO

The footage, which runs for more than ten minutes, has been published in collaboration with the Australian War Memorial. Accompanying the footage are curator’s notes written by Paul Byrnes, film critic, journalist and senior curator with australianscreen online.

‘This film is really the first serious attempt to make an Australian war documentary, a very new idea at the time. These First World War films depict the birth of war being covered by moving image. It changed warfare forever’, says Byrnes.

There are two versions of the film in existence. The original footage was filmed under the direction of the famous Australian war correspondent, Charles Bean. In 1917 in London, Bean cut the film and wrote titles painstakingly explaining the images for Australians. Later he discovered that his version had been lost. It has never been found. Bean tried to reassemble it after the war was finished.

The second version was assembled from original footage by London film businessman Sir William Jury. Bean described this version as ‘2000 feet of miscellaneous rubbish’. The Australian War Memorial holds two versions, the Jury version and one which appears to be the version reassembled by Bean after the war.

Byrnes says, 'This was meant to be the film that informed Australians about the greatest battle our troops had engaged in on the Western Front. Both versions of the film are valuable now as historical documents, but it’s important to know which one is closest to what Charles Bean intended. He was a stickler for accuracy, and I think these images are a kind of memorial to those men.’

Clips from the two different versions can now be viewed on australianscreen online (aso.gov.au).

Pozières remains one of the most haunting names in Australian military history. The famous First World War battle saw 23 000 Australian soldiers killed or wounded over a six week period in July and August 1916.

australianscreen online features more than 4000 moving image clips from over 1500 feature films, documentaries, television programs, newsreels, animations, home movies and sound recordings. With learning resources prepared in collaboration with Education Services Australia, the website is accessed throughout the world by over 700 000 visitors per year.

The audiovisual material is sourced from the collections of the NFSA and many institutions in addition to the Australian War Memorial, including the National Archives of Australia, the ABC, SBS and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Media contact: David Hogan, 02 6248 2002; david.hogan@nfsa.gov.au
Interviews can be arranged with Paul Byrnes.
Stills are available for media use.

View the Pozières footage on australianscreen

Paul Byrnes’ moving article on the Australian War Memorial films from the Western Front

Full list of films sourced from the Australian War Memorial

Films about the First World War

The Australian War Memorial Logo


David Hogan
P. + 61 2 6248 2002
F. + 61 2 6248 8159