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About the Video Clip:

Video Clip Synopsis:
For 6 years the two half arches gradually draw closer together. A dream is realised when the heaviest and biggest bridge arch in the world is finally completed.

2min 3sec

Sydney’s Harbour Bridge Finally Completed is an excerpt from the film Sydney’s Harbour Bridge (8 mins), produced in 1933.

Sydney’s Harbour Bridge: Officially opened on 19 March 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was a massive engineering undertaking that transformed the city. This short film documents the construction of one of the world’s great landmarks in its various stages, and provides a fascinaing glimpse of life around Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay in the twenties and thirties.

Sydney’s Harbour Bridge was filmed over several years and edited to celebrate the opening.

Sydney’s Harbour Bridge was produced by the Department of Commerce.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: The Arts
Year: 9-10
Strand: Visual arts
Theme: Artists at Work

Key Concepts

Identity; Culture; History

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Visual arts, Level 6: analyses and responds to a range of visual art works using appropriate language and terminology
NSW:Visual arts: Stages 4, & 5: Critical study, Historical study
NT:Arts responses and analysis VA 5+.3, VA 5.4, Arts in Context VA 5.4, VA5+.4
Qld:Visual arts: VA 5.3, VA 6.3
SA:Arts analysis and response 5.4; Arts in context 5.6
Tas:Visual art: Arts criticism and aesthetics, Past and present contexts (Bands B & C)
Vic:Responding to the arts – criticism, aesthetics and contexts 6.3, 6.4, 6.8ext
WA:Responding, reflecting on and evaluating the arts RRE 6, 7. 8

Context / Background Information

Opened in 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world's largest steel arch bridge. Its massive span is constructed of British and Australian steel and supported by reinforced concrete foundations dug to a depth of 12.2 metres. Four imposing, granite-faced pylons rise 89 metres to complete the image of what is possibly Australia's best-known symbol.

As work on the Sydney Harbour Bridge progressed, the structure became the talk of Sydney. Many people wondered whether the two half-arches gradually stretching from the north and south shores of the harbour would meet as intended. Yet meet they did – due to the meticulous skills of the engineers, stevedores and other workers involved in the project.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was not just a remarkable feat of engineering. It was a work of art that appealed to the imaginations of filmmakers, painters and photographers who admired the intriguing geometric design and the saga of the bridge's construction.

The video clip of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one dramatic example of these artistic tributes. The video clip's close-up and distant views create an interesting paradox, at some points concentrating on the strength and solidity of the structure and at others on the elegance of a design likened to 'the delicate tendrils of a hothouse plant'.

Discussion Pointers

Why is the Sydney Harbour Bridge internationally recognised as a symbol of Australia?

If you wanted to draw, film or photograph the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where would you choose to stand to undertake that task? Give reasons for your choice.

What is the most striking feature of the Sydney Harbour Bridge? Its size, location or design?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Consider three different ways of creating images of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during its construction - in cinematography, photography, and painting.
  2. Watch the video clip. How does the filmmaker create impressions of both the strength and delicacy of the structure?
  3. See if you can locate some of the photographs by Henri Mallard.
  4. How did Mallard obtain his dramatic images? What ‘story’ of the Bridge is he trying to tell us?
  5. Find these two famous paintings by Grace Cossington-Smith ; The Curve of the Bridge, The Bridge in Curve.
  6. How do Cossington-Smith’s paintings achieve a sense of vibrancy and movement in an immovable object?
  7. Discuss the importance of vantage point, contrast and perspective in creating artistic images. Compare the approaches taken by each artist (filmmaker, photographer and painter). What use of contrast is evident in their images? What is the vantage point of each artist? What impressions of the Sydney Harbour Bridge do they wish to create? How successful are they in doing this?

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 7-8, The Arts Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10