The Birth of White Australia

The Birth of White Australia

Downloadable Video - 2016
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An early Australian silent film depicting historical events on the Young district goldfields, then known as Lambing Flat. During the gold rush of 1861, tensions between Australian miners and immigrant Chinese led to rioting, with Chinese miners attacked and driven from the diggings. The film portrays these events as being the genesis – or birth – of the White Australia policy, a significant political issue of the day.. The film is a narrative jumble, jumping between actuality and drama, and from historical vignettes to obscure folklore. National events like a re-enactment of Captain Cook’s landing and actuality footage of the 1927 Parliament House opening ceremony in nearby Canberra, contrast with depictions of the hardships of settlers and the discovery of gold at Lambing Flat. Aboriginals are depicted both as savages – violently attacking settlers – and saviours, rescuing a starving traveller who is brought to live with the tribe.. Backed financially by the townsfolk of Young, NSW, the bulk of the amateur cast were locals. Many of the ‘Chinese’, depicted as furtive caricatures with pigtails, were played by whites wearing stockings. Despite a short season in Young, the film had no other screenings and failed to recover its costs. The original film print was discovered by Young Historical Society in the early 1960s, stored in the clock tower of Young Town Hall, and later given to NFSA. The film exists today as a historical curiosity piece..
Publisher: [San Francisco, California, USA] :, Kanopy Streaming,, 2016
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia,, 1928
Characteristics: 1 online resource (streaming video file) (103 minutes): digital, .flv file, sound


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