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A Place to Live (1950)


This dramatised documentary, made by the Realist Film Unit for the Brotherhood of St Laurence, contrasts the living conditions of the urban poor with the ‘owners of industry’ in 1950s Melbourne. It implies that while Melbourne is Australia’s financial centre, its wealth is only accessible to a few.

Curator’s notes

A feature of this documentary is its use of contrasting images to create an ideological argument about the injustice of inequality. The film is edited in a way that steadily builds this argument, illustrating that while the wealthy live in houses that the workers have built, the workers themselves, ‘producers of wealth, builders of these homes’ live across the river in poor conditions. The sequences in clip two especially, are a powerful example of this.

The Realist Film Unit made a series of three films that addressed the poor housing conditions in Melbourne in the 1940s and 1950s, and with the involvement of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The other two films are These Are Our Children and Beautiful Melbourne. According to Gerry Harrant, who was involved with the Realist Film Unit, A Place to Live was updated over time and from the stock dates on the film, this ranged from 1945 to 1950. Footage of inner-city dwellings from These Are Our Children and Beautiful Melbourne is incorporated within this film.