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Melbourne's (and Australia's) Centenary Of Film Projection                       By Fred Page

             On  22 August.1896, Carl  Hertz  presented  the first public demonstration  of projected film  in  a  theatre  in
            Australia. Born Louis Morgenstein in San Francisco in  1859, he arrived in Melbourne on 11  August, 1896 with
             the  reputation  of being one  of the worlds  best known  and  most traveled  magicians.  As part of his  act he
             presented  films  on  a  "Theatrograph"  projector  he  purchased  in  London  from  R.W. Paul, the  machines'
            The Theatrograph was demonstrated at the Opera
             House (site of the later Tivoli Theatre, 249 Bourke
            St, Melbourne) on Monday, 17 August, 1896. This
            demonstration took place around  midnight before
            an  invited  audience  of  theatre  folk  and
            representatives  of the  press.  The  presentation
            enjoyed  a  warm  reception  and  the  following
            Saturday,  August the  22nd, the "cinematograph"
            advertised as the "greatest attraction of the century",
            had its' public debut. The program consisted of the
            following films, each of about 55 seconds duration:

            *  Seascape with waves in motion.
            *  Scene from 'Trilby" - Death of Svengali.
            *  Westminster Bridge.
            *  London street scene.
            *  Kimpton Park races.
            *  A military review.
            *  Boxing cats.
            *  Gaiety (U.S.) company ballet.
            *  Negro dances.
            *  Serpentine dance.
            *  Sword combat on horseback.
            *  Burlesque boxing match.
            *  Scene on London Bridge.
            *  The Soldier's Courtship.

            The films were not spliced together as the projector
            mechanism was not strong enough to cope with that
            amount of film without damaging it. As a result Hertz
            had  to thread  each  film  separately.  The  program
            was sourced from both England and America.

            The projector was situated at the back of the stage
            and used a translucent screen.  In spite of the fact
            that the light was weak and the focus and registration
            anything but perfect, the show was  an  immediate
            hit with  glowing  reports  in the  papers. The  show
            continued before packed houses and transferred to
            the Sydney Tivoli on the 17th of September.

            None-the-less, movies continued at the Melbourne Opera House after a few days break,  this  time using an
            improved "Theatrograph" projector,  a Mr.  Baxter being the projectionist with a new series of films. This show
            toured many theatres under the Opera House management of Harry Rickards until May 1897.
            By  this  time  the  Lumiere  Company  had  entered  the  local  market with  superior equipment and films and
            consolidated  their position with local production of actuality films, the most well known being the Melbourne
            Cup of 1896, which was screened at the Princess Theatre on 19 November, 1896. One day later (20 November)
            the Princess concluded screening a Lumiere program which had commenced three weeks earlier.

            Henceforth, films continued  to be shown throughout the country, a situation  that continues with  no  sign  of
            abating 100 years on.                                           (Referen·ce:  Cinema Papers, 1992)
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