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Marvellous Melbourne: Queen City of the South (c.1910)


This silent documentary with intertitles was compiled by producer Charles Cozens Spencer and cinematographer Ernest Higgins. It documents architecture, transport, and recreation in Melbourne in the early part of last century.

Curator’s notes

Marvellous Melbourne is a compilation of a series of films that Higgins and Spencer made about aspects of everyday life in the city and premiered at Wirth’s Olympia in Melbourne on 22 November 1910. The footage, with its camera angles, static shots, dollies and steady pans across the city, illustrates the beauty and many attractions of the city of Melbourne and is an important visual record of Melbourne’s history.

According to the National Film and Sound Archive database, this is the ‘oldest surviving complete documentary film on Melbourne’. Cozens Spencer, a Londoner, moved to Australia in 1905 and successfully exhibited films throughout the country. In 1908, Spencer formed a production unit (Spencers Pictures) with the cameraman Ernest Higgins, and made a number of short actuality films, this being one example. Spencer later went on to produce feature films, some with director Raymond Longford.