This clip begins with a family of four – Mrs and Mr Albion with their two children Douglas and Wally – posing for a family portrait and is followed by a close-up of the youngest child, Douglas. The next scene films the father blowing bubbles through a pipe with Douglas, who is seated opposite him. The child gives it a go. A child dressed in a clown outfit – probably big brother Wally – stands nearby. The clip ends with the child clown blowing bubbles and the younger child looking on.
Summary by Poppy De Souza
At the beginning of this clip, the Albion family arrange themselves typically for a formal family portrait: the mother and youngest child Douglas are seated, nine-year-old Wally stands to his mother’s side, and the father stands with his hand on the chair to the right side of the frame. As the head of the family, he stands at a slight distance from the other three family members. In the early decades of the 20th century when people were still getting used to the moving image camera, it was common to pose as if though for a still photograph.
The ruffled outfit that Douglas wears at the end of this clip and the bubble pipe are similar to a scene from another of the family’s home movies. In Albion, Douglas: Children’s Party C1921 it is his brother Wally who is dressed in the identical outfit and blows bubbles through a pipe. This clip is thought to be from 1925 (the stock date on the film is used to estimate the age of the home movie). Clothing and stock date are two ways that archivists attempt to identify audiovisual material.
Albion, Douglas: Children’s Birthday Party synopsis
A tinted home movie of family scenes in a garden and a children’s party celebration in the mid 1920s.
It begins with a shot of the Albion family posing portrait style for the camera and then shows the father blowing bubbles with his young child Wally. Other scenes include an older child dressed as a clown and the young child in a flower bed with his mother.
Running at just under two minutes, this captivating home movie footage was discovered by Douglas Albion (who is seen here as the blonde two-year-old) under his brother Wal’s house decades after it was filmed. He was about to throw the reels out when he heard of the ‘Search of the Century’ that ran to coincide with the making of Our Century – a 25 part television documentary series that chronicled Australia’s history from 1900 to 1999.
The film is well shot and consists mostly of fixed camera angles that film the family and friends from a close position capturing the detail and facial expressions with remarkable clarity. The backyard was probably the Albion’s home in Sydney, but as Douglas recalled, there were many addresses and backyards where children’s parties occurred over his childhood years.
This home movie was filmed on 35 mm nitrate film stock – uncommon for home movies at the time – and uses an orange tint to add colour. Tinting is achieved by adding a layer of dye across the image. The film is in fair condition for a nitrate home movie of its age. Nitrate is highly flammable and chemically unstable – prone to severe deterioration if not preserved under favourable conditions. This short segment is one of three reels of nitrate film chronicling significant events and celebrations in the Albion family during the early 1920s. The parents in this footage also appear in Wally’s Fifth Birthday Party, filmed in the same location.