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This Anzac Day remember World War 1 on film at Nga Taonga

Apr 24th, 2017 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Contemporary animation, 100-year-old newsreels and veterans’ personal recounts have come together in an Anzac Day film commemoration.

Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision is screening five films in its inner city cinema over two weeks around Anzac day.

Cataloguing and research manager James Taylor began building the programme in February but really it began in 2013.

“All of our WW1 projects have been in the woodwork since 2013. It’s the culmination of years of work.”

The collection highlights the diverse range of experiences of the war, says James.

“We’re not trying to do something that’s hyper-nationalistic or patriotic,” he says.

“I think it’s important to look at some of the other sides to the story and the way the war was experienced by people.”

The screenings are running April 19-29, but the films remain at the archives and are available to view for free.

A lot of the content is also available on, Ngā Taonga’s World War 1 database.

The films cover Gallipoli, treatment of conscientious objectors, nurses in field hospitals and experiences of other armies in the war.

Field Punishment No.1 is the dramatised retelling of the story of Archibald Baxter and hundreds of pacifists in New Zealand, featuring Fraser Brown.

“It tells that side of the story that’s often forgotten, which is the people that protested against the war, and the pretty gruelling punishment that was dished out to them by New Zealand,” says James.

Lottery Grants Board funding helped Ngā Taonga collect archival material from the British Film Institute, the Imperial War Museum in London and British Pathé, who employed cameramen to shoot newsreels in the war.

“We spent a couple of years acquiring this footage, and trying to make it accessible to the public,” says James.

Ngā Taonga created For King and Country, a 70 minute compilation film narrated by military historian Chris Pugsley.

“We’ve kind of put things together as a chronological narrative of the war,” he says.

Another documentary featured in the programme is TVNZ’s Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story, which Pugsley helped make in 1984.

“It’s a really important documentary which brought Gallipoli back into New Zealand’s consciousness, using oral histories of a lot of the veterans that are no longer here.”

The star of the programme is 25 April, which uses graphic novel style animation.

“It’s based on diaries and accounts from different people who took part in the war, and draws quite heavily on the experience of the nurses,” says James.

Gallipoli: The Frontline Experience, made in 2005 by Turkish director Tola Ornek, is narrated by Sam Niell.

James says the two Gallipoli documentaries exemplify the change in World War 1 films.

Gallipoli: The New Zealand story was made in 1984, and it’s very much focused on the soldier’s experience. Whereas now, the flipside of that is Gallipoli: The Frontline Story which focuses on the different nations that fought,” says James.

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