Home movie: Sydney Opera House Opening

Home movie: Sydney Opera House Opening
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Amateur cinematographer George Browne shot this silent home movie at the opening of the Sydney Opera House on 20 October 1973.

The NFSA collects home movies to show a broader range of lived experiences – something that commercial films alone cannot provide.

Film reels were short and expensive to buy and process, so the choice of subject shows us moments that were deemed significant enough to memorialise by the home-movie enthusiast or amateur filmmaker.

This footage moves around Sydney Harbour, capturing the fanfare and buzz generated by the opening of the Sydney Opera House. The forecourt is covered with people and the harbour is bustling with watercraft, all trying to gain the best vantage point for the celebration of this new and already iconic landmark. We see a helicopter fly-over as well as navy vessels and military planes flying overhead in formation.

This footage was shot on 9.5mm film, which was not as common a format for home movies as super 8. The format was created by Pathé for distributing commercial releases to a home audience in the 1920s. A camera was released later so the home-movie enthusiast could film and then project their own films along with the commercial titles.

Notes by Heather Gill