Australian Screen

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Cartoons of the Moment – Miss Australasia (c.1915)

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This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

This clip begins with the animated title Cartoons of the Moment, then shows political cartoonist Harry Julius sitting at his desk reading a newspaper. He puts the newspaper down and begins to sketch. This cuts to an animated cartoon commenting on how the war should change the buying choices of Australian women. It does this by sketching a woman dressed in clothing imported from Germany and Austria before the war. A caption urges that, in the future, they should be wearing apparel made in Australia or by the Allies.

Curator’s notes

The hand of the artist often appears in Cartoons of the Moment sketches and reveals the process of bringing a character to life. As Julius’s hand fills out the details and features of the figure, the audience can see the sketch unfolding before their eyes. In Julius’s political satire, the cartoon characters and figures are read with reference to the captions and text accompanying them.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This black-and-white clip shows a sketch of a woman in smart daywear with accessories and comments on the changed buying habits of Australian women during wartime. After the animated title the cartoonist is shown in his study. He responds to something he reads in a newspaper and the film cuts to his sketch. As the sketch develops a caption describes how Miss Australasia purchases items of apparel made in Germany and Austria. The same sketch is modified to show how Miss Australasia’s purchases in the future will be made in Australia.

Educational value points

  • The clip highlights the way war can affect trade relations by turning trading partners into enemies. In 1914 Germany was one of Australia’s most important trading partners, second in importance to Great Britain for imports and exports. During the First World War (1914–18) the Australian Government passed three ‘Trading with the Enemy’ acts ending this trade relationship and cancelling existing commercial contracts with firms in enemy countries.
  • The cartoon, shown in a newsreel during the First World War, targets women in the audience to subtly convey a message to them to ‘buy Australian’ apparel rather than German or Austrian. This patriotic appeal may have found its mark with women who became far more active during the War years, entering the workforce, performing voluntary war-related activities and in assisting recruitment drives.
  • The cartoon implies that war can open up opportunities for Australian industries with its reference to the future when ‘MISS AUSTRALIAWILL ONLY BUY WEARING APPAREL MADE IN AUSTRALIA’. The implication of this statement is that the £500,000 that went to German and Austrian clothing manufacturers will now go to Australian manufacturers. By the First World War’s end more than 400 new products were produced in Australia.
  • The cartoon shows the effectiveness of simple stop-frame animation. The content of the film is conveyed through one image of Miss Australasia sketched in through frame-by-frame photography, filming one action of the artist’s hand at a time. The appearance of the caption word-by-word on the screen and the arrows pointing to each item of clothing is recorded in the same way. The simplicity of the technique focuses attention on the message.
  • The cartoon demonstrates the distinctive style of Australian artist and cartoonist Harry Julius (1885–1938). After the title footage, film shows him at work getting ideas from a newspaper. Several of his cartoons are introduced in this way and it was common for the animations to show his hand creating the images. Most of his cartoon drawings are white figures on a black background. Animation is simple, frequently employing cut outs and captions.
  • This cartoon shows an example of women’s fashions at the outbreak of the First World War, destined to change dramatically during the War years. The changes were in response to women entering the workforce and requiring clothes that suited their new, more active lives. The voluminous skirts, tight waists and elaborate accessories shown in the clip gave way to simpler tunic styles, shorter skirts and colours and fabrics that suited the austerity of wartime.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer Allied apparel from the newsreel Cartoons of the Moment – Miss Australasia as a high quality video download.

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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.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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