Australian Screen

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The Opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (1932)

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Cutting the ribbon

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

The Premier of NSW, Jack Lang, and a large party of officials, walk towards the ribbon at the approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. As the ribbon is cut, the commentator John Harper remarks on the crowd who are clapping and yelling, ‘they’re that excited’.

A view back towards the bridge captures the crowd, and three planes can be seen in the sky overhead. The parade begins as they approach the bridge to walk across it for the first time. The Sydney Harbour Bridge Workers – the ‘greatest men in the world’ according to Harper – are one of the first groups in the parade. The camera captures other floats parading towards the bridge.

Curator’s notes

The notable absence in this newsreel is the ‘De Groot incident’ where an officer of the New Guard, Captain Francis De Groot, on horseback, slashed the ribbon with his sword – beating the Premier to the task. De Groot was quickly escorted away by police and the ribbon was retied for the Premier’s official cutting of the ribbon.

As well as the remarkable visual coverage that this newsreel provides, the uncontained pride and excitement of Harper’s commentary strongly conveys what people must have felt at the time the Bridge was opened. Harper remarks that it makes one ‘proud to be Australian’. The dense crowd huddled around the bridge’s approach and the floats and people in the parade are a record of the importance of the event for the people of Sydney, New South Wales, and the country as a nation.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

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