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Pearls and Savages

Pearls and Savages (Frank Hurley, 1921) documentary about Anglican missions in Papua; with additional footage expanded to become With the Headhunters in Papua, 1923: Hurley presented both films lecturing from the stage

Pearls and Savages is Frank Hurley’s documentation of his heroic voyages around PNG. I tried hard not to think about or notice any evidence of patriarchalism or patronisation or colonialism, tho of course it’s there if you want to see it. Actually, what struck me, visually, was a trace of resemblance between this and Coppola’s use of a similarly ‘primitive’ people in Apocalypse Now: the same ballet of canoes surrounding a ‘sophisticated’ boat (or aeroplane, in this case).

In December 1920 [Frank Hurley] left Australia to record the work of Anglican missions in Papua and to make a 'travelogue entertainment'. The result was Pearls and Savages, a documentary released in Sydney in December 1921, with Hurley lecturing from the stage as the film was screened. Pike & Cooper: 132.

Garry Gillard | New: 25 October, 2012 | Now: 27 June, 2020