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The Legend of Damien Parer (1964)


The life story of the legendary Australian combat cameraman Damien Parer, as seen through the eyes of those who knew him and through the amazing footage that he shot with Australian and US forces until his death in action with his camera in 1944.

Curator’s notes

When Gil Brealey was assigned the task of making a documentary about Damien Parer’s life, he was determined to interview those who had been closest to the man. Gil wanted to take his camera out into the field rather than bring the interviewees into the studio. For example, in order to interview the fighter pilot who became a Qantas captain, Gil had a tower built so the crew could film the pilot inside his cockpit where he felt at home. Elizabeth Parer was interviewed in her home surrounded by the memorabilia of her husband’s life and their short time together.

Frank Legg, the intrepid war correspondent and colleague of Damien Parer, had come to the ABC with the script about the life and times of his great friend. This became the basis for the The Legend of Damien Parer with a final script by another of Parer’s great friends, the filmmaker Maslyn Williams. The great strength of this documentary is that Gil Brealey intercuts the reminiscences of family and friends with Damien Parer’s own combat footage which eventually won him an Oscar (an American Academy Award). His camera work and direction remains powerful and striking even by today’s standards.