Film: 6403

Places + Locations | 1920 | Silent | B/W


A film about people of New Britain during the 1920's and of village life in a south sea tropical island. Sequences are interrupted by inter titles.

"On the scattered islands of the New Guinea group dwell many primitive tribes practically untouched by civilisation. Formerly a German possession they are now a mandated territory under Australian rule" Graphic of north Australia and the island of New Guinea ( Papua New Guinea ) "We approach them by coastal trading steamer from the harbour of Raboul, the capital". ( Rabaul ) A large modern white ship sails into the harbour, it is glimpsed between two trees from the land. A sweeping shot from the steamer as it sits at the wharf, of the part of Rabaul which appears a small but pleasant settlement with wharf buildings and colonial houses and a flagpole dominant, people stand about. There is what appears to be a well maintained harbour side park land and or perhaps it is part of the colonial administrators grounds. The rather pretty and well laid out narrow harbour has buildings scattered about. The large white steamer is seen moored. "Across the bay we see the mountains known to natives as "The Mother" and "The Two Daughters". Across the water, a larger mountain rises up, behind it to the right two smaller mountains are visible. "The Beehive Islands - thrown up by volcanic eruption some fifty years ago." a sharply rising very small and taller than it is wide island points out of the water. Several others rise up in the water, they are just visible in the poor light. A male islander is on the boat from which the film is shot, it is a sailing yacht of about 25 feet. A view of the land nearby and evidence of storm or wave damage on the shore. An islander sits on the extreme bow of the yacht. "Our Kanaka men are keen on personal cleanliness. " An islander uses a square recycled kerosene tin to pour water over himself on the bow. An indistinct view f the shore. Two more shots of the islanders washing themselves on the bow of the boat.

"Passing the Pal Mal Mal cocoanut plantation we near the lonely station of Gasnata - where one district officer and a doctor look after native interests." a graphic shows the village on the extreme south tip of the island of New Britain. The village comprises quite substantial timer and grass houses built over the water. "On to the Kanaka village of Awara". The houses built in Awara are not built on the water but beneath the coconut trees just off the small sandy beach. Outrigger canoes and a slightly bigger sailing dinghy are pulled up on the sand, the village looks quite substantial. A large tree with tropical palm like fronds are shown. A yacht is moored at the end of a small jetty, a few people move up and down the jetty, there is a timber building at it send. "Houses are built of bush timber thatched with Kunai grass." A slightly indistinct but interesting shot of the village, with people standing about under the eaves of the high sloping grass roofs. A native wearing a grass skirt is standing in front of one of the houses, and has his/her back to the camera, people walk away . The person in the grass skirt climbs the ladder of the grass house. A native islander is building the frame of a house, he stands on the roof frame with ease, with his legs straddling a beam. On the other end of the roof an islander squats holding the beam the other man is hammering, he smokes a cigarette. The centre of the village, a very pleasant open area is between the houses and trees, people are just visible in the dark shade of the house verandahs. A woman wearing just a grass skirt walks with a toddler on her hip past the house. "Life is leisurely in these islands. Nature provides for every simple need." A man squats on a low stool he appears to be grating a root vegetable. Another man squats in a covered area, a pig wanders about near him. The lady and her toddler sit in the shelter she cuddles the little one. A little boy with an older child is filmed in the sunshine, the toddler looks fearfully towards the camera. A close-up of the little boy as he stands by an older child, he is whimpering then looks at the camera, stops crying and looks very cross, he hides behind the other child beside him. The other child pushes him forward and holds him by the arms the little boy is very angry at being forced and he is struggling and yelling. The mother and baby are filmed again, the mother is smiling. A young adolescent girl looks shy at being filmed. The mother smiles and her baby is crying, the mother tries to placate it. "Kanaka women paddle the canoe and carry most of the burdens". A small boat dinghy loaded with boxes has four people standing on it, two native people stand wither end, and steer and paddle the boat with long paddles. Three young females, one only about ten years old carry large bundles of firewood on their heads, they wear only skirts as they walk off through the village.

Another r woman carries a large wrapped bundle on her head, she carries a child on her hip and a square kerosene tin bucket, men walk past her. A young woman stands patiently being filmed. "Hogs are quite domestic pets. They are also used in barter - for wives." A nice shot of a house with a steep roof that almost reaches the ground, a young man enters the house, beside it a man wearing a volumous grass skirt turns and looks at the camera, there are a couple of pigs, and to the left of the shot a woman stands carrying her baby. Three pigs stand together. Several pigs are seen grazing around the base of a house. A young man walks past the side of a house, he turns and speaks to a pig, it runs away. A couple, the male and female, and their baby, walk away, their skirts flapping. "Kanakas age rapidly. They marry at 15…"A shy young woman is filmed at the waters edge, like all the women she wears no clothing on her upper body. Another young woman is walking by with a large basket of goods on her head, she turns as if called and pauses for the camera, she giggles and smiles broadly. A young woman carries a baby and a large bundle on hr head, she is also heavily pregnant. "…and are worn out veterans at 45." An old man stands on the jetty he looks toothless and although his hair is still dark, his body is wizened. Another man stands and looks at the camera, he has large pig tusks around his neck on a string, and beside him stands another older man. The first older man wades past a long dug out canoe.

"It is the custom hr to bind the heads of infants tightly with bark and fibre". A young baby is held. His young mother is holding him, she and a man tie the grasses around his head. The mother assists with her spare hand wile the older man does most of the head binding. "This produces a peculiar domed formation and very heavy eyes." A very young baby of about two months of age has its head bound into a high dome, and is held by its mother. The young woman whose baby's head was bound by the man hold him, he restlessly drinks from her breast. A close up of the child sucking the mothers nipple. "At 2 years the bandage is removed and the head gradually becomes more normal." A baby of about six months old has a very elongated head. A profile shot shows the extent of the elongation, which is probably about twice the length of an unbound baby. A young boy of approximately seven years old stands in profile for the camera, he turns as he is obviously told to face the camera, his head is still quite elongated. "Their largest journeys are in fishing canoes with sails made from woven leaves." A dugout canoe has an outrigger and a small cross wise decking with rails, a slim mast with a woven grass sail two young men expertly tie down the sail. An older man walks across the beach in front of his boat, the decking pieces loaded with coconuts. He stands with his hands on his hips and looks at the camera. "A rarity among these tribes is an Albino - despised by some and venerated by others." A young albino woman stands abjectly in the shade of a tree. A close up of her shows she is about 14, and she looks desperately self-conscious and humiliated, her eyes remain downcast.

"The schooner brings luxuries such as beads, knives, bottles, tins and calico - in exchange for … COCOANUTS." (coconuts) A scene through the trees on shore of a moored trading schooner, a young native man walks across the view. In the water an older man dog paddles, he pulls a big group of coconuts, which have bee tied together, through the water to the ship. A sequence of shots shows his progress towards the schooner. A man in a dugout is loading the coconuts from the water onto his little timber deck of the dugout canoe, from there three other young men throw the tied together coconuts onto the schooner deck. Another man is paddling his canoe full of coconuts out to the schooner, while another man is about to swim his floating load out. A closer shot of the outrigger as it comes out to the schooner. In the shallow water a family, comprising a mother, a father and four small children, stands on the slim canoe. "loading cocoanuts and copra onto the trading vessel". Two men carry a long pole on their shoulders, between them the pole is loaded with coconuts tied on to it, they wade across the waters edge, circumventing almost submerged outcrops of sharp rocky reefs, to the schooner which is moored close to the shore. "So we leave these children of nature on the shores of the Southern Sea." Two small children play in the shade of trees on the waters edge, another is messing about in a small boat and a paddle in the shallow water. The waves roll in to the island shore.

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