Australia’s Prime Minister delights the Empire

Australia’s Prime Minister delights the Empire
Australasian Gazette
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This animated clip begins with a profile sketch of wartime Prime Minister Billy Hughes wearing a hat. Cut-out animation is used to lift the hat off Hughes’s head as an accompanying caption reads ‘what Billy Hughes has under his hat’. Two characters emerge out of Hughes’s head – a German man holding a bag marked ‘German trade’ and a mini-version of Hughes. The mini Hughes delivers a punch to the German character as the caption reads ‘a knockout for German trade’.

Summary by Poppy de Souza

Prime Minister Billy Hughes pushed strongly for Allied countries to put economic pressure on Germany and place restrictions on German trade. A cinema audience watching this cartoon at the time would have understood Hughes’s position and the depiction of Hughes as a fighter beating his German opponent was intended to emphasise Australia’s firm stance on the issue.

In Harry Julius’s political cartoons, the captions and illustrations are closely linked, with one taking its cue from the other. The hat and the knockout blow in this clip are the prompts for the sketch. The Russian doll effect – with a mini Hughes emerging from a larger Hughes – adds to the wit of the cartoon.


Australia’s Prime Minister delights the Empire synopsis

In this edition of Cartoons of the Moment, cartoonist Harry Julius comments on the war in Europe and Australian Prime Minister Hughes’s policy of restrictions on trade with Germany.


Curator's notes

Cartoons of the Moment was a weekly political cartoon segment that screened in the Australasian Gazette newsreel from around 1914 to 1918. From 1916, the segment supported Prime Minister William (Billy) Hughes’s push for conscription and his other causes including enforced restrictions on German trade. Julius drew several sketches about the latter, including Australia’s Prime Minister Delights at the Empire, Miss Australasia and Sir George and Saint George.

Cut-out animation and stop-motion photography is used to great effect in these early examples of Australian animated cartoons. In this clip, Billy Hughes’s hat flips open to deliver two characters: a man representing German trade and a mini-version of Hughes delivering a knockout blow to the former. The animation is simple, but effective, and is representative of the style adopted by Julius throughout the Cartoons of the Moment series.


Notes by Poppy de Souza




Australasian Films