The first of our mini-posts on Australia and silent film (while we are away visiting the country) doesn’t feature the land of Australia at all. It’s some of the precious footage that survives of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, in which many Australian and New Zealand troops died trying in vain to establish a sea route for Allied forces through to Russia.
The film was shot by British journalist (and later MP) Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett. Ashmead-Bartlett’s written reports aroused great passions, and were important in establishing the idea of the Anzac. He took a cine camera with him, and the resultant film, With the Dardanelles Expedition: Heroes of Gallipoli (1916), was shown in England, Australia and America, causing great consternation among the British authorities, for whom Ashmead-Barlett’s words and images were anything but helpful propaganda.
The film was acquired by the Australian War Memorial in 1919, and was restored in 2005 with help from Peter (‘Lord of the Rings’) Jackson. The above video is a three-minute sequence from the twenty-minute original.
Further clips with useful curatorial notes on the film can be found on the australianscreen site, which has a section devoted to Gallipoli on film generally.
An example of Ashmead-Bartlett’s reporting, covering the Anzac landing at Gallipoli, can be read on the Gallipoli and the Anzacs site, with extracts from his diary which mention his use of the cinematograph on the same site.
Film was also taken from the Ottoman Turk side, though it’s unclear by whom. The footage can be found on YouTube, though the original source is unclear, and certainly wasn’t consulted.