Friday, December 1, 2017

Monumental history illuminates the dawn of film in New Zealand

More than 20 years in the writing, The Camera in the Crowd: Filming New Zealand in Peace and War, 1895–1920 is a magnum opus — the first book to document fully the beginnings of filmmaking and cinema for and by New Zealanders.

In 536 pages this sumptuous hardback brings to life the first 25 years of film in New Zealand, from the arrival of the first kinetoscope technology through the building of cinemas, filming for tourism promotion, cameramen working in the First World War and the arrival of 'talkies'.

"This is the book that I've hoped that someone would write," comments Sir Peter Jackson in his enthusiastic foreword.
Luxuriously illustrated with over 350 photos, film stills and ephemera, the book mimics those early experiences of film, as the author explains:

"Film is made to be seen on screen and this book reflects this by providing stills from the films discussed. Titles of surviving films are also identified by a small projector in the margin that allows you to access the film online and pause and have a look at what you are reading about.

"Each page also includes a still from the 1914 film Auckland's Expeditionary Force  ... you can enjoy this segment by flipping the pages in the manner of the once very popular flip books."
One of the 268 'flip book' images
Christopher Pugsley is best known for his military histories including Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story, and it was that expertise that led to his working for the then New Zealand Film Archive in the early 1990s. From there grew his passion for film history that has continued with the current Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, which has furnished the images and information for much of the book.

As Sir Peter concludes his foreword:

"You are holding a treasure trove in your hands. It's time to peer through that peephole and see our country of 100 years ago come alive again.

"Thank you, Chris."

Christopher Pugsley is one of New Zealand's most respected historians. Formerly a Lieutenant-Colonel in the New Zealand Army and a lecturer in military studies in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, he has writen numerous works of military history including Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story and The Anzac Experience, and was historical director of the Gallipoli: The Scale of War exhibition at Te Papa Tongarewa, the New Zealand National Museum in Wellington. He lives in Waikanae Beach. 

Publication Date: 29 November 2017  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-34-6 |  RRP $80

Paperback, 270 x 215 mm, 536 pages (8 pages colour)

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