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Australian Film

Writing of cinematographer Damien Parer’s untimely death in 1944, war correspondent Chester Wilmot paid tribute to him as ‘a fine man as well as a brilliant photographer. He made the camera speak as no other man I’ve ever known.’ Neil McDonald’s book, Damien Parer’s War, does eloquent justice to this legendary figure in Australian history and Australian film. Many may know that Parer was the first Australian to win an Oscar, but, unless they have read the 1994 edition of this admirable book, they may not know much else.

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Why are we still hooked on the 1960s? As English art historian David Mellor said they were the Utopian Years. Perhaps our dreams and aspirations were anchored there. It is a rather difficult period to review with historical accuracy precisely because it was so rich in ideas and ideals; there was so much happening.

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When the ABC asked me to adapt Roger McDonald’s novel 1915 into a major seven-part serial, I declined. Ray Alchin, producer and head of the ABC’s film studio in Sydney, looked at me with disbelief and asked me to read it again. So I read it again, twice, and thanked him for having the good sense to see its possibilities, and gratefully accepted.

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