Film curator Sally Jackson writes about Australia’s first cinema animations for the 2014 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage on 27 October.
In anticipation of the 2015 centenary of Australian animation, and during the four-year commemoration of the First World War, the NFSA is preserving the Cartoons of the Moment of 'lightning’ sketch artist and caricaturist Harry Julius.
In January 1915, Australia’s largest film production company, Australasian Films, commissioned Julius to provide a satirical commentary on the news for their nationally distributed weekly cinema newsreel, The Australian Gazette.
Already a household name around the country, Julius (1885-1938) had been delivering satirical sketches for the major newspapers for some years (see External Links, to the right). Until that point there had never been an Australian produced satirical commentary for the cinema, and certainly not a cartoon. No series of locally-produced cartoons had screened in cinemas, only imported animation. Australasian Films knew they had a 'first’.
The example below (Miss Australasia, The Crown Prince of Germany and National Service, NFSA title: 58201) dates from mid-to-late September 1915, judging by its contents.