Disenchantment with the War and falling living standards led to arguably the greatest industrial unrest in Australia’s History. The introduction of a time card system – among other grievances – lit a fire that started at the Everleigh Railway Workshops, and then spread nation-wide. Following protests in Melbourne and Sydney attracted crowds of up to 150,000 people.
The National Film and Sound Archive has released footage in conjunction with an exhibition at the Carriageworks Gallery
The film includes images of strike-breakers returning by ferry to their camp at Taronga Zoo, and protesters with placards decrying the use of Taronga as a camp for strike-breakers. It also shows “volunteer” or “scab” labour (depending on your perspective) at The North Shore Gasworks.
Photographs of the strike-breakers can be seen in a previous article Viewing the monkey enclosure: perspectives left and right.A documentary on the Wobblies is also viewable at the NFSA.
The Great Strike is a rare censored film documenting one of Australia’s largest industrial conflicts. This footage, last seen in 1917, is a unique insight into a crucial moment in the history of the Australian union movement, as well as early 20th century Sydney.
The footage has been restored especially for the 100th anniversary on 2 August 2017, and reconstructed by combining two surviving fragments of the original motion picture.
With an original running time of an hour, The Great Strike was released in October 1917 in the dying days of the strike. But it was screened only once in its original form before it was embargoed, censored and given the rather dry new title of Recent Industrial Happenings in NSW. The film’s censorship was largely driven by the concerns of politician Walter Wearne, who had organised volunteer labour while the paid workers were on strike.
In bringing the film to life for a new audience in 2017, City of Sydney and National Film and Sound Archive staff undertook extensive research. As the film was only ever screened once, it’s believed that no more than one or two prints would ever have existed.
NFSA The Great Strike (1917) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zTcFOH9hdc retrieved 3/08/2017
This week marks the centenary of Australia’s ‘Great Strike’ – one of the nation’s largest industrial conflicts, which officially started on 2 August 1917. For this occasion, we’ve reconstructed a censored film which hasn’t been seen in 100 years.
With an original running time of an hour, The Great Strike was released in October 1917 in the dying days of the strike. It was shown only once, and then it was embargoed, censored and given a new title: Recent Industrial Happenings in NSW. It is believed that no more than one or two prints of the full film would ever have existed.
For a long time the NFSA has preserved a 12-minute fragment from the censored Recent Industrial Happenings in NSW. It was considered the only surviving footage, but in 2016, we discovered a six-minute reel containing additional scenes. Our experts scanned the two reels and edited them together, using a ‘synopsis of scenes’ published in the newspaper The Daily Post in 1917. This ad included a chronological listing of the film’s scenes, and that information allowed us to identify which moments were missing and recreate the original film as accurately as possible.
GONZALEZ, MIGUEL 1917 film reconstructed by NFSA experts https://www.nfsa.gov.au/latest/australias-great-strike-100-years retrieved 3/08/2017
This is the resulting film:
The Great Strike
NFSA footage released 31/07/2017