Film: 1805

Places + Locations | 1960 | Sound | Colour


A film about the Sydney Opera House, Australia, ten years after the commencement of its construction, in 1967 at the end of the second stage of construction, with the base and the roofs finished.

It explains the problems associated with the initial design and architect. It shows the foundations and base, the design difficulties of the shells, and how they are constructed and the roofs white tiles and how they are attached. The film also points out the various venues that will be in the building on completion.

An aerial view of the Sydney Opera House under construction on Bennelong Point, seen from the base of the pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Another view is from Fort Dennison and its cannons in the foreground. Still another from the Botanic Gardens and Garden Island Dockyards lie in the background. Passengers are on a Sydney Harbour ferry, they look out on to the Sydney Opera House. The Opera House is seen from Circular Quay a ferry moves into the Quay. A close-up gives details of the tiles on the Opera House roof, or sails or shells as the roofs are variously known. Tourists look up in awe. Over the next few shots are various opinions of the half finished building. The white tiles of the Opera House and the pattern in which they are laid is shown, two workmen are visible in the convergence of the "sails. An architects model of the Opera House. One of the sails under construction and detail of its steel skeleton or frame is visible. The white sails shine in the sun. A model of Jorn Utzon's controversial prize winning entry in 1957. The Opera House is seen from the beach at Fort Dennison on mmmm Island. A sequence of shots of the raw interior of the building with its magnificent soaring angles and steel framework and concrete curves, a builder appears occasionally in a safety hat.

A view of the Opera House from the harbour, with a ferry passing in the foreground. An aerial view of the opera House as the narrator mentions the resignation of architect Jorn Utzon and the government's appointment of three architects to complete the project. He discusses Utzon's ideas of the shape of the roof, the design of the Opera House being determined by its position in relation to the city, the harbour and on Bennelong Point, the circular aerial view shows the cranes around the site. From one of the roofs, the site is seen from above, as the concrete and steel steps down in a series of layers, there is a great deal of reinforcing steel and scaffolding and workmen are here and there. The magnificence and difficulty of the site are discussed as the foundation piers, some of which go 70 feet under sea level to bedrock, are pictured beneath the base. The base itself is a complex multi-storied building on its own, and is shown under construction, a workman stands on a truck and directs a front end loader, the base is likened to a massive Aztec temple.

A shot of the roof or shells in early construction surrounded by cranes is shown. Now the tiles are in place, as the narrator explains they were so difficult to construct, it took six years to make drawings, calculations and model testing. A model of the Opera House is seen. Two men make models of it. There is an animated graphic of the Opera House which used spherical geometry in its construction, the graphic is interspersed with each model roof being added. There is a close-up of one of the shells. Detail of the concrete ribs which make up the roof. There is a view from the inside of the building looking out through the roof. Workmen are seen on one of the main rib sections which were built on site. A crane lifts one of the rib sections into place by a especially designed erection arch. The tip of the shell is having its last rib into place, by crane and two workmen high on the tip of the roof, the final rib is accurate to within one quarter of an inch, due to computer calculations. Engineers Ove Arup and Partners are quoted "…the construction of the roof of the Sydney Opera House is on the boundaries of what is possible."

A view of the roof sails half covered in the white tiles. A close-up of the small white ceramic tiles shows grouting being squeezed in the joins. The hands of a workman polish the Utzon -specified tiles. The tiles have been joined together to form a pattern and these are seen hanging inside the construction area. Two workmen hang high in the air from a crane with a tile section, with extraordinary skill unsafe they attach the section to the upper edge and tip of the high roof - also evidence of unsafe work practice.

View of the partly constructed Sydney Opera House from Circular Quay. A sequence of shots showing workmen directing the lifting of sections of reconstructed granite that is to be used for covering the base, the stairs and the broadwalk. A return to the model of the building pointing out the space between the shell roof and the base will be fitted with glass set in bronze -clad frames.

Tourists walk up a rap of the partly constructed Opera House. The sightseers inspect the unfinished interior. There is a view of the Opera House from the Harbour. The interior of the largest of the shells is to be the concert hall. There is a sequence of shots of tourists gazing at the soaring concrete ribs the flowing lines and soft angles of the raw interior of the shells. There is a close-up of a model of a rehearsal rooms and concert hall and drama theatre. He smaller shells on the left cover a theatre for opera, ballet, recitals and large scale drama. There is a detail the space between the roof and the base which is under construction, and there is a mess of scaffolding ad steel. A view of east side of the Sydney Opera House shows the space for a small hall for recitals or receptions. The small pair of shells standing on their own will become the restaurant. What is to be a chamber music room on the ground floor is now a gaping hole in the concrete. Tourists inspecting the Opera House stand on what will be a balcony that overlooks the harbour and the bridge. A small powered boat moves towards Circular Quay. The promenade at the front f the Opera House will hold a coffee shop and café. Two workmen sit perched high in a concrete as they eat their sandwiches. Inside the unfinished concrete rehearsal rooms and theatres, the cavernous interior is filled with scaffolding and hanging wires and raw concrete levels.

A pile of broken and discarded safety hats lies at the base of the Sydney Opera House symbolising the ten years the building has been under construction. There is a view of the building from the harbour with the city skyline in the background and ferries. A sweeping shot of the north shore and suburbs sweeps around to include the already beautiful but not completed building.

To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 1805.