Lost film opens celebrations at the Sydney Opera House and on ABC1
To launch their 40th Anniversary celebrations, the Opera House premiered Autopsy on a Dream, John Weiley’s long-lost 1968 film about the troubled birth of Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s masterpiece, to an audience including former Opera House construction workers on Thursday 17 October 2013.
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The film, narrated by Bob Ellis, was then screened for the first time on Australian television on Sunday 20 October on ABC1 and made available to watch on demand.
The basement of BBC Television Centre – London 1969
Racks of film cans – thousands of them stretching into the distance. A balding man in a grey dust-coat working his way toward us running his finger along the titles. Finds what he is looking for and pulls it off the shelf.
A large traditional butcher’s chopping block. The man comes toward us, takes the rolls of film out of the can pops the cores out and places them on the block. He picks up a large meat cleaver (that we hadn’t noticed before) checks with his thumb that it is sharp then steps back and with a mighty swing chops the roll of film in half. He keeps chopping the rolls into smaller and smaller pieces. It’s quite hard. As he chops we zoom in slowly to the title on the discarded can:
“Sydney Opera House – Autopsy on a Dream“.
Some notes by John Weiley
If you described the equipment you would like to take on an expedition to Antarctica; light, flexible, easy to operate….you would be describing the antithesis of an IMAX camera.
IMAX equipment delivers images of unmatched clarity, sharpness and size but you pay a price for that…. It is very big, very heavy and very demanding.
Part of the sense of ‘presence’ comes from our use of very wide angle lenses and we have to get those lenses very close to the action…you can’t use long lenses to pull things up close; there are no tricks.
To give you the feeling that you are “really there” we have to actually BE really there…….we cannot give you the feeling that you are falling into a crevasse unless we really do fall into that crevasse. We do sometimes look around and say to ourselves “This is completely insane…” but as any war photographer will tell you, looking through a lens makes everything seem less dangerous.