Although the industry was in its infancy at the outbreak of the First World War, film was already one of the most popular forms of entertainment around the world. Both sides of the conflict saw the potential of film for delivering news and propaganda at home. Films such as The Battle of the Somme were watched by millions of people, giving them an insight into the conditions in France. Cinematographers captured hundreds of hours of footage during the war.
The Australian War Memorial’s cine camera is an example of the Moy and Bastie 1909 model. This type of camera was used by Geoffrey Malins and John MacDowell, British cinematographers who filmed Australian soldiers behind the lines, producing footage that would later become the basis for Australia in France, edited by Charles Bean.
The camera worked by turning a hand crank on the right side at a speed of two revolutions per second. The camera uses 35mm film, which was fed between two internal 400 foot magazines. It has a viewing tube for lining up the shot, which had to be closed when filming. A tripod allowed the camera to be panned while maintaining an even cranking speed.