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A Nation Is Built

46m Drama 1938

Commemorating the Australian Sesquicentenary in 1938, the Government of New South Wales commissioned this film as a showcase to convey the history and achievements of 150 years of British settlement.

A family on a picnic to celebrate Australia’s 150th ‘birthday’, talk of significant events that have shaped the nation. From Governor Phillip’s arrival with the First Fleet, to Macarthur’s sheep and Farrer’s wheat, the film then moves through the country today, showing rural production, industrial might and of course, Sydney, with its harbour, new bridge and impressive buildings. As the introductory titles grandly proclaim: “From so small a beginning has sprung the virile Australian Nation.”

Frank Hurley, at the peak of his fame as an intrepid photographer, adventurer, film maker – and showman – was the obvious choice to direct, and he delivered spectacular imagery and patriotic commentary with gusto.

Very much a film of its time, with an overall message of progress and full of statistics – bushels, bales, miles and tonnages abound – A NATION IS BUILT takes national pride to superlative levels. Indigenous Australians and non-British migrants are simply absent. So too is much of Australia – this is really a film about New South Wales, with almost all the footage defiantly within the state.

Distributed by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. For home use only. © 2015 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Frank Hurley







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