Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pantomime posters, censorship & archives

This rare photograph shows a poster advertising the pantomime 'Sleeping Beauty' in Christchurch, 1920. "So impressed was I with its vulgarity and indecency" wrote Christchurch Tramways Board member Frank Thompson, "I had in photographed." He then mailed it to the Department of Internal Affairs, who, after the Cinematograph Film Censorship Act was passed in 1916, resumed responsibility for film censorship.

Although the full-colour poster was not advertising a moving picture, Thompson objected that "from the waist upwards the woman is naked save for two small plates over the two breasts," and hoped the DIA could take action. G. Anderson from the DIA replied on 15 July that "the Government is at present considering the question of introducing legislation to enable some form of censorship to be exercised over cinematograph picture posters."

The photograph itself is from a larger series of records dealing with objectionable film posters; some of which actually contain the posters themselves. As well as being visually interesting, the series highlights the increasing importance of film in New Zealand culture, and early attempts to control their content. It also captures a rare glimpse of historic Christchurch that - due to the earthquake of February 2011 - no longer exists.

Archives Reference: IA1 Box 1313 13/11/16

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