The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) has digitally restored The Corrick Collection, containing 135 of the world’s earliest films, which formed part of the Corrick Family Entertainers variety act over 100 years ago.
A selection of these priceless films will have a world premiere at Ten Days on the Island from 5-21 March 2021, to celebrate the Corricks’ connection with Tasmania. Further national and international screenings will be announced in coming months.
Additionally, five films from The Corrick Collection are now available to audiences worldwide on the NFSA’s YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/NFSACorrickCollection.
NFSA Chief Curator Gayle Lake said: ‘The Corrick Collection was truly a window on the world for early 20th century Australians. The Corricks were entertainment visionaries, and we’re proud to give these films a new digital life so they can once again capture the audiences, 100 years on.’
Starting in 1897, the Corricks produced a two-hour ‘multimedia’ extravaganza featuring live music, dancing, comedy sketches, poetry recitals and singalongs.
In 1901 the youngest Corrick, Leonard, introduced a film program titled ‘Leonard’s Beautiful Pictures’. It offered Australian audiences a chance to explore the world, presenting the latest special effects, comedy and newsreel films made in Europe and the United States by legendary names such as D.W. Griffith and Edwin S. Porter.
Leonard Corrick eventually acquired his own film equipment, and started shooting, editing, and screening footage of whichever town the troupe was visiting. Audiences would come along, wanting to see their town (and themselves) on screen. Leonard also made the first narrative film ever produced in Western Australia, 1907’s The Bashful Mr Brown.
The Corricks eventually retired and settled in Tasmania. Their collection, including films, photographs and tour memorabilia, was donated to the NFSA by Leonard’s son John.
Restored photochemically almost 20 years ago, The Corrick Collection has now been digitally restored as part of the NFSA Restores program to digitise, restore and preserve Australian films so they can be seen in today’s digital cinemas.
While copies of some of the international productions exist at other archives around the world, the new NFSA Restores digital prints were produced using the highest technological standards, giving the black and white and hand-coloured films a new lease of life.
Leonard Corrick’s grandson Stewart said: ‘For many years these films were no more than ‘things’ Dad had in our garage growing up. If I had been asked why The Corrick Collection is important, I wouldn’t have been able to answer beyond its meaning to the family.
‘When I met all the NFSA staff who’d been working on this collection and its digital restoration for years, that was a mind-blowing day for me. It made me appreciate what my grandfather Leonard had brought together and, in part created something that was and is a cinematic holy grail of enormous significance to not only my family’s heritage, but that of our nation. I now realise that this collection is history brought to life.”
The five Corrick Collection films available on the NFSA’s YouTube channel from today are:
- Foolshead’s Wrestling / Cretinetti Lottatore (1909) – one of the earliest films in the popular Italian comedy series starring Cretinetti (Foolshead), a much-loved character played by André Deed.
- The Little Street Singers / Les Petits Pifferari (1909) – a beautifully hand-stencilled tale of a two siblings who meet up with a travelling musician and start performing in cafes with great success.
- Prince of Wales Visit to Launceston (1920) – shot by Leonard Corrick, it documents the visit of Prince Edward (future King Edward VIII) to Tasmania in July 1920.
- The Flower Fairy / La Fee Aux Fleurs (1905) – featuring early special effects created by the most significant Spanish silent film director, Segundo de Chomón.
- Creusot’s Metallurgy / La Metallurgie au Creusot (1905) – an early industrial film documenting the forging process at Schneider & Co. Steel Mill, located in the town of Le Creusot in France.