Buckley Family Collection: Asian village and street scenes

Buckley Family Collection: Asian village and street scenes
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This clip shows elephants carrying goods on their backs in South-East Asia; village huts by a river, filmed from onboard a boat; and street scenes in a larger city. Summary by Poppy De Souza.

In the late 1920s, Horace Buckley was living in Kuala Lumpur with his wife, Nell, and working in Thailand. The city scenes in this clip are probably of Kuala Lumpur.

This clip is of interest not only as an historical record, but also because these scenes were important to the filmmaker. It is easy to forget that actuality footage is the result of an active process with the filmmaker choosing what to capture within the frame. Buckley focuses on the bustle of the road and allows the camera to follow the natural movement of people and traffic along its passageway. While this may seem mundane, the observation of daily life is a common feature of home movies.


Buckley family collection synopsis

This silent 16mm home movie footage was shot by Horace Patrick Buckley in the late 1920s, while working in Thailand at the Tarn Shan Tin Mine. It includes footage taken at the mine, various street and village scenes in South-East Asia, shots of the Buckley family on board a boat and holiday scenes in Australia.


Buckley family collection curator's notes

This home movie is an example of actuality footage that presents personal experiences of the Asia-Pacific region in the 1920s. This footage is rare because Australians travelled infrequently to South-East Asia at the time. Horace Patrick (HP) Buckley was living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and working in Thailand (then called Siam) when he filmed this home movie. As well as capturing aspects of his working life, Buckley also filmed the landscape and streets of Thailand and Malaysia. As a university student, HP Buckley was part of the Locke Oil Expedition in Western Australia in 1922. By the late 1920s, he was working for BHP, and was asked to set up the Tarn Shan Tin Mine for the Siamese government. Buckley and his wife Nell moved to Kuala Lumpur and lived in the region until the late 1930s.

This home movie is part of the Buckley Family Collection, preserved at the National Film and Sound Archive. The collection comprises home movies made by brothers HP, Kethel Timothy (Keith) and Brian Buckley between 1929 and 1963. Although all three brothers loved making home movies, none of them took up cinematography as a profession. Anthony Buckley, Keith’s son and HP’s nephew, is the only member of the Buckley family to enter the professional film industry. Since picking up a 9.5mm camera in the early 1950s, Anthony Buckley has gone on to become one of Australia’s foremost film producers. His credits include Caddie (1976), Bliss (1985), BeDevil (1993) and Oyster Farmer (2004).

Notes by Poppy De Souza