Jane Paul, our Community Screenings Coordinator is curating a World War One programme of films held by NZFA including some that have been repatriated recently from Archives overseas. Once the programme has been curated Bill Hickman and other musicians will be composing and recording a soundtrack. The result will be freely available to loan by community groups throughout New Zealand in 2015. Its an exciting project, and is requiring a great deal of viewing to decide on the final selection of films. The WWI films in the programme are mostly newsreel clips and Government films, providing official views of the war.
One film that Jane is interested in finding is a drama called Shattered. It was made post war in 1931, by Robert Steele. Shattered, from newspaper reports is a drama about the terrible effects of the war on returned soldiers.
Advertised in the Auckland Star as an “Auckland Photo-Play of Love and War.” it screened at the Town Hall’s Concert Chamber in Auckland on 26 October, 1931. A review noted the film “dealt with the effect of the war upon a young man, and his reactions on returning to his home. The plot has been constructed carefully and the influence of the war on the impressionable young man is emphasised in a number of well acted scenes. The principal player is shown to be an entirely changed person in his character and leanings upon his return to New Zealand and he is not able to rise above the practices he acquired under the stress of warfare. Ultimately he is charged with murder and following his appearance in Court, depicted by convincing scenes, the story is brought to an effective climax.”
Jane researched the film and amateur filmmakers involvement as part of her MA History from Victoria University Wellington on Amateur Filmmaking in New Zealand. The role of amateur filmmakers and amateur film clubs have been overlooked in New Zealand history and film history. Shattered is the only known dramatic production made on World War One – no professional filmmakers broached the subject until much later. Interesting too that this unofficial story of the effects of the war was most likely an anti-war polemic.
Robert Steele later became a prominent figure in New Zealand’s independent film industry from the 1940s to the 1970s. Anyone who knows of this film, knew Robert Steele or Miss M. Woolcott who headed “a talented local cast” or has pictures of the cast – or best of all the 16mm film – is urged to get in touch!