Memorial documentary The Hall of Memory showcases the inspirational work of artist Napier Waller – Character Counts

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A powerful documentary paying homage to the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory has been released by the Memorial. In particular, it emphasises the 15 values observed in Australian servicemen and servicewomen which inform character.

Produced by renowned journalist, producer and film-maker Max Uechtritz and scored by songwriter and record producer Garth Porter, The Hall of Memory was made possible through a financial donation from Michael and Katherine Ribot de Bressac.

The film explores the concept and intent behind the 15 stained glass panels in the Hall of Memory, each of which symbolises one of the quintessential qualities displayed by Australians in war. The film features Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson presenting the story of the creation of the Hall of Memory and its stunning designs by artist Napier Waller OBE CMG.

Dr Nelson said the Hall of Memory at the heart of the Memorial reflects the vision of its founder Charles Bean, and John Treloar, a veteran of Gallipoli and France and the Memorial’s longest serving director.

“They asked themselves a very important question: ‘What are the essential personal, social and battle qualities seen in Australian servicemen and women?’ The 15 stained glass windows in the Hall of Memory powerfully typify these quintessential virtues, all of which inform character. Transcending everything else in life – rank, power, money, influence, looks and intellect – is character. Young Australians seeking values for the world they want need look no further than these,” Dr Nelson said.

“I encourage all organisations, institutions and anyone working with young people to view the documentary,” said Dr Nelson.

The film also tells the story of the Hall of Memory’s creator, Napier Waller, who designed and completed the stained glass windows and mosaics from 1952 to 1958 after losing an arm while serving in the First World War.  

“Napier Waller was a digger himself and his right arm was amputated at the shoulder after being wounded at Bullecourt on the Western Front in 1917. Ultimately, he would go on to create the magnificent mosaic art work which adorns the Hall of Memory, the biggest in the world of its kind at the time,” Dr Nelson said.

The first viewing of the film occurred in the Memorial’s BAE Systems Theatre on 31 July to an audience including students from Campbell High School in Canberra.

“It is most important that the younger generations of Australians have an understanding of the meaning and deep symbolic value behind the artwork in the Hall of Memory. It is thanks ultimately to Mike and Kate Ribot de Bressac whose foresight and generosity allowed this masterful piece of film to be created,” Dr Nelson said.

The documentary draws upon archival material, including photos and documents held by the Memorial, which were woven together with interviews and the highest quality 4K cinematic footage, filmed by award-winning cinematographer Andy Taylor ACS, and spectacular drone footage.

It’s hoped that the film, which runs for about 25 minutes, will be broadcast on commercial networks in the future. It will be made available through the Memorial shop and online, and as an educational resource for schools and students. 

Watch the documentary:

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