Bernard Kearns presents a survey of NZ life in the 30s in this episode of the National Film Unit series The Years Back (“people and events that shaped the New Zealand of today”). The documentary includes a wealth of footage taken from NFU stock: the aftermath of the 1931 Napier earthquake, the Depression (as Kearns bluntly states, “there was a lot of misery in the 30s”), and runner Jack Lovelock’s gold medal triumph at the Berlin Olympics. There’s also editorial flair as King George VI’s lavish coronation ceremony is juxtaposed with the A&P show back home.
The Years Back was a 13-part documentary series made for television by the National Film Unit and first broadcast in 1973. Covering six decades from 1900 to 1960, it was promoted as "people and events that shaped the New Zealand of today", and content was largely influenced by what historic film had survived. Presented by Bernard Kearns, fascinating footage (including the 1931 Napier Earthquake and Jack Lovelock’s 1936 Olympic triumph) is accompanied by interviewees recalling or commenting on past events, big and small, as they unfold on the screen.
Jack Lovelock won New Zealand’s first Olympic athletics gold medal. He did so in spectacular fashion, winning the 1500 metres at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In front of Hitler and 110,000 spectators, the famous ‘Lovelock kick’ unfurled into NZ’s sporting and collective consciousness: from Timaru to Oxford, to Berlin triumph. Yet Lovelock was an enigmatic achiever. In this short film, the race — the supremely judged apex of a sporting career — is contrasted with his mysterious and tragic death, in front of a train on the New York subway in 1949.
Donald Duncan has worked underwater, on snow, and in Narnia. Raised on a Waikato farm, Duncan trained in sound, then moved into camerawork. The early 90s saw him shooting comedy User Friendly, the darkly stylish Jack Be Nimble and acclaimed short Lovelock. After helping set the style of Xena: Warrior Princess, Duncan was NZ Film-awarded for Snakeskin. He has shot a number of US productions down under.
Chris Burt is an Auckland-based sound designer. Coming from a background in music (as a drummer in the Techtones and Stridulators, and as a sound mixer) he began in the screen industry as an assistant on 1983 movie Trial Run, and later designed the sound for classic short film Kitchen Sink. Since setting up his own studio The Inside Track in 1992, Burt has worked on dozens of projects — and won awards for his sound work on everything from In My Father's Den to TV movies Siege and Jean.