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Dancing Orpheus (1962)


A black-and-white nature program from the earliest years of ABC television featuring the unique lyrebird.

Curator’s notes

The sadness here is that such a huge amount of research, patient filming and superb sound catching went into a black-and-white film about the lyrebird when the subject screams out for colour. The ABC began filming in colour in the early 1970s in anticipation of a changeover to colour in 1975. Unfortunately this remarkable program was 1962, too early for such an innovation. The script is very primitive, with the words telling us exactly what we’re seeing and read by an announcer in an utterly disembodied voice, but the images of this normally secretive bird are quite simply breathtaking, with expressive bird calls that more than make up for the leaden script.

This was the final episode in a series of six films on the subject of Australia’s unique fauna. The series was devised by the acclaimed naturalist Graham Pizzey and shot by Frank Few in the Grampian Mountains of Victoria.