- 1 hr 50 min
Newsfront is a gripping and poignant Australian movie drama directed by Phillip Noyce and released in 1978. The film, which won several awards, such as four AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards including Best Film, portrays the struggles of newsreel cameramen in the 1950s as they capture the events and stories of the day. The movie opens with Len Maguire (played by Bill Hunter), young and enthusiastic, filming a bicycle race in suburban Sydney in 1948. Len is part of a newsreel company that specializes in producing newsreels for cinema audiences. They provide a glimpse into the past and the events of the day from sporting events, celebrity affairs, and important news events to name a few. Len and his newsreel team are anxiously waiting for the arrival of the first Australian Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, trying to capture the perfect shot. The camera rolls as the Prime Minister disembarks from the train, and Len captures the moment. The story then skips ahead ten years to 1958, where the backbone of the newsreel industry is under threat from new technology in the form of television. This is reflected in the story of Len and his brother Frank, (played by Gerard Kennedy), who work together at a newsreel company. Frank is the storyteller, reporter, and editor, while Len is the cameraman. The movie follows their pursuit of "the big story" and their fight against rival companies as they struggle to stay viable. The newsreel company that they work for is struggling to cover expenses, and the owners have to make difficult decisions about what to cover and who to hire. Len's friendship with the new hire from the UK, newcomer Chris Hewitt (Chris Haywood), plays out in the context of the growing distress of the newsreel business. While protecting the profession is the central theme of the film, there are several sub-themes. Romance, sibling rivalry, and the impact of war on the Australian consciousness are just a few. The personal lives of Len and Frank add an emotional dimension to the movie as the brothers have their differences, but share a deep bond. Wendy Hughes plays the love interest of one of the brothers, and the movie explores the limitations and opportunities of female journalists and their role in a predominantly male industry. The audience sees newsreel footage that covers famous historical events such as the power workers strike, the 1956 Hungary conflict, the establishment of the Australian television network, and the rise of the Melbourne Olympic Games. These all set the context in which the characters work and influence their attitudes and ambitions. The movie was groundbreaking in so many ways, notably in its combination of fictional characters and actual historical events. Noyce's direction gives this movie an intimate perspective on the lives of the people who covered the stories of the day. It feels accurate and authentic brilliantly blending original footage with compellingly written characters. The choice of Australian actors in this film echoes the themes touched on in the movie: national identity, pride, and determination. The acting is superb, with some of Australia's most accomplished actors in starring roles. One of the many strengths of Newsfront is how it manages to capture the time period so well with the vibrant 1950s milieu in every scene. The costuming, sets, music, language, and attitudes all make for a remarkably vivid and memorable cinematic experience. In conclusion, Newsfront is an exceptional movie that will transport you back in time, enthralling you with gripping human drama, and make you appreciate the people who captured the historic events of our past. It's a fascinating, insightful and touching portrait of a bygone era of Australian newsreels. Newsfront confirms the legacy of Australian film industry as a powerful and important voice in world cinema.