"The Celluloid Heroes" is a remarkable score, moving between many different styles and rhythms. It's full of gusto, with numerous melodies, which just keep coming and coming, track after track. This is one of the highlights of 1M1 Records entire output of scores. 1M1 Records been wanting to put this score out for 8 years now, and after several months of painstaking negotiations, and logistical roadblocks, finally it has all come together.
Who are the Celluloid Heroes?
Well, in August 1896, way across the world from where the Lumiere Brothers had launched the birth of cinema 8 months previously, something amazing was happening to the colonists in Australia. Carl Hertz, an American magician, brought to them, the first movies these young Australians ever saw, screening at the Melbourne Opera House.
A few months later, footage was filmed of what was and still is Australia's most famous sporting event, a horse race called "The Melbourne Cup". Marius Sestier, an agent of the Lumiere Brothers in Australia, was the man who managed to do this.
A few years later, on September 19, 1900, the Melbourne Town Hall was packed to its rafters by four thousand people eager to see something they'd never seen before - a multi-media presentation of slides, hymns, sermons and moving pictures, put together by the Salvation Army. This 'show' was called "Soldiers of the Cross", and it is now known to be the first major success of a fledgling film industry that 102 years later has just had another film nominated for a Best Film Oscar. The industry started strongly and built to a strong point in the 1940s before dwindling away to next to nothing for over twenty years. Then came the renaissance in the later 1960s and early 1970s. The names that are synonymous with this renewed film industry are still the names that are making films all over the world, in every conceivable department, in every nook and cranny. Peter Weir, Fred Schepisi, Gillian Armstrong, Bruce Beresford, Phillip Noyce and more recently Jane Camnpion, Scott Hicks and Baz Luhrmann are some of the directors who have forged lasting careers throughout Europe and the United States. Actors, Cinematographers, Assistant Directors, Costume Designer and Art Directors are all working in these roles.
Mel Gibson made his name with "Mad Max", and Judy Davis and Sam Neill came to the world's attention in "My Brilliant Career", and then these and other young directors and actors went back and forth between Australia and the rest of the world, and in what seems now like the blink of an eye, Sam Neill was starring in "Jurassic Park", Phillip Noyce was directing Harrison Ford in "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger", Geoffrey Rush was collecting an Academy Award for Best Actor in "Shine", and Mel Gibson was accepting an Oscar for "Braveheart".
"The Celluloid Heroes" is a 4-hour film that looks at that entire journey. A collaboration between Film Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation provided a large symphony orchestra for the important job of performing Nigel Westlake's score. Here in the underscoring is the part that voices and sound didn't play for nearly 30 years. Evident also in the music is the wonderful exuberance of motion picture filmmaking as the industry grew in strength. The film is about the triumph of self-determination and courage. The music is about achieving something that is first-rate and world-class.
Notes by Philip Powers © 2004