Movietone Special: Peace: Australia Celebrates
This Movietone News special edition newsreel marks the nationwide celebrations at the end of the Second World War.
This clip shows joyous celebrations erupting in Sydney streets at the declaration of peace after the Japanese surrender. Footage includes enormous crowds crammed shoulder to shoulder in the city. A tracking shot from a moving vehicle shows the famous image of the dancing man who does a pirouette and doffs his hat for the camera. Another man holds up the front page of the newspaper with the 'PEACE’ headline, people crowd into trams, and over shots of people going wild throwing shredded paper, the voice-over by Jack Davey urges people to 'tear up some paper, it’s the thing to do!’. There are also shots of night celebrations and the start of the victory march the following morning.
This dancing man is one of the best-known images of the celebrations at the end of the Second World War. His brief (eight second) appearance, captured on film in George Street, between King Street and Martin Place on 15 August 1945, has been replayed countless times and come to encapsulate the spontaneity of emotion throughout the nation on that day.
In the years since this newsreel was first shown, the mystery surrounding the dancer’s name has compounded the fascination with this audiovisual record. Even now, his identity remains in dispute and a number of men over the years have claimed to be the figure in the newsreel. But whatever the genesis of this scene, it illustrates how resonant icons can make historic news events timeless and, in doing so, embed themselves into the national consciousness.