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Menzies Home Movies

The Menzies Home Movie Collection includes approximately 35 films of varying duration. It provides a unique opportunity to see the world through the eyes of an Australian Prime Minister.

The collection features colour footage of the London Blitz in 1941, scenes of the Churchill family at home and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, while also including, like most home movies, footage of family holidays, birthday celebrations and weddings.

Shot on 16mm colour film, these home movies are a rare glimpse into the life of the longest serving Australian Prime Minister as well as an historical record of Australian political life during the Second World War.

After being given a 16mm camera by his good friend, George Nicholas, Sir Robert Menzies began filming home movies in 1941, the same year as he recorded footage of the London Blitz. When interviewed for The Canberra Files (2006), Menzies’ daughter Heather Henderson explained how her father captured the mood of the country (England) during the Blitz and how the films correspond to his diaries. Menzies had access to many people, allowing him to record the Churchill family at home as well as members of the British Royal Family.

The home movies are shot with an eye for composition and were edited in a way that not only told the story but did so in an interesting way. According to Heather Henderson, Sir Robert used to visit Kodak production studios to instruct the technicians on how to edit his films. He also created his own title cards and often screened his home movies after dinner at The Lodge.

Dame Pattie Menzies donated the Menzies Home Movie Collection to the National Film and Sound Archive in 1985. It was in good condition and most of the titles have been transferred to video.

Titles in this collection

Australia to England via Tobruk and Benghazi: Menzies Wartime Tour 1941

Most footage of the Second World War is in black-and-white, making this 16mm colour home movie by former Prime Minister Robert Menzies even more extraordinary.

From England to the USA: Menzies Wartime Tour c1941

Part travelogue and part historical record, this home movie captures official visits as well as the prime minister’s own travel.

Menzies 1948 Journey, Reel 1 1948

This 16mm colour home movie filmed and edited by Sir Robert Menzies is an extraordinary record for not only Australians but the British too.

Menzies 1948 Journey, Reel 2 1948

A truly mesmerising piece of footage taken through the eyes of Australian prime minister, Sir Robert Menzies, during a family journey through Europe.

Menzies 1948 Journey, Reel 3 1948

This home movie is the third reel of a four-part travelogue filmed by Australian Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, in 1948.

Menzies RG: Our Coronation Tour 1953

This home movie filmed by Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, captures the official ceremonies for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Menzies RG: Our Royal Visitors 1954

Sir Robert Menzies recorded the royal visit of 1954 and the pomp, ceremony and excitement that surrounded it.

Menzies’ Wartime Tour – England 1941

Sir Robert Menzies captures the atmosphere of London during The Blitz in 1941, recording the raid as it happened and then filming its immediate aftermath.