Celluloid Heroes, The SERIES


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1995 Total Running Time 223 Minutes

The Celluloid Heroes is a four-part series that traces the history of Australian cinema from its origins to the 1990s. It recognises Australia’s great talent, both on the screen and behind the camera. These Australian heroes have struggled to master and refine the art of cinema from its birth. Through their work they have made an enormous contribution to the way Australians see themselves, as well as the way they are seen by the world.


Pioneers, The (1894-1927) Australians of the 1890s were among the first to discover the medium of film, and to excel at it. Early classics such as The Story of the Kelly Gang, Robbery Under Arms and The Squatter’s Daughter were followed by international hits The Sentimental Bloke and On Our Selection. The careers of actors such as Lottie Lyell and Arthur Tauchert and directors including Alfred Rolfe, Raymond Longford and Beaumont Smith were established during this era. Woman Suffers, The, directed by Raymond Longford and starring Lottie Lyell, is one of the most significant, surviving treasures of Australia’s silent film heritage. And The Grip of the Polar Ice launched Frank Hurley as one of the leading documentary makers of the world. Lack of government interest coupled with restrictive laws saw our movie screens taken over by Hollywood as early as 1918. Despite this, a dynamic band of filmmakers with a bold and uncompromising vision had been established.

OK for Sound (1928-1948) The new technology of talking pictures revolutionised the industry and brought forth new stars. In the Wake of the Bounty introduced Errol Flynn.  This was the era of the great Dad and Dave films, and Charles Chauvel’s international masterpiece, Forty Thousand Horsemen.

Arising from the Ashes (1949-1970) (1949-1970) The post-war film world was dominated by the giants of Hollywood, but local heroes managed to achieve huge successes with local stories including Jedda and King of the Coral Sea. Lee Robinson produced features that launched the careers of many actors including Chips Rafferty, Rod Taylor, Ron Randell and Bud Tingwell. The political climate of the time and its impact on the industry is also examined.

Beyond Our Wildest Dreams (1971-1995) This was the era when our cinema was reborn with classic films made one after the other -  films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock, Caddie, Newsfront, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Sunday Too Far Away and later Mad Max, My Brilliant Career, Breaker Morant and Gallipoli - all produced in Australia to international acclaim. This period in Australia’s film industry fostered the brilliant talents of actors Mel Gibson and Judy Davis and directors Peter Weir, Gillian Armstrong, George Miller and Bruce Beresford.

Free Teachers’ Notes - Download here

A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Directors: Robert Francis, Donald Crombie

Narrator: Bryan Brown

Year: 1995

Total Running Time 223 Minutes

Classification: M. Consumer advice: Medium level sex scenes,medium level violence, low level coarse language.

Curriculum Links: Creative Arts, Studies of Society and Environment, Film, Cinema and Screen Studies, Australian History.


History of Australian Cinema

King of the Coral Sea


SKU 199104500
Brand Film Australia

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