For King & Country: NZ's First World War on Film
Curated by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
For King & Country: New Zealand's First World War on Film covers New Zealand’s experience of the war. Excerpts from 38 films and a variety of still images are included, from the collections of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and other archives in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The programme is presented thematically and covers the history of filmmaking in New Zealand, and life prior to the war. It shows soldiers training and departing as well as shipboard life. There is footage of NZEF soldiers in Egypt, Gallipoli, Europe and the Middle East, and scenes showing the work of the medical corps. There are also rare glimpses of life at the home front in New Zealand, including the first conscription ballot, fundraising activities, and an intimate home movie. It finishes with activities surrounding the armistice in the UK and New Zealand, the return home of the Māori contingent, and the unveiling of the Messines Ridge memorial in Belgium, in 1924.
Films made during this time were all silent; however, they were never presented silently. They were usually accompanied by a narrator and a pianist, or even an orchestra. To match the spirit of the time we have recorded a commentary by renowned historian Dr Chris Pugsley, ONZM, to explain what is happening in the films. A te reo version of the commentary is available as well. We have also commissioned a contemporary soundtrack by Iain Gordon of Fat Freddy's Drop to re-create the cinema-going experience, with a modern twist.