THE LOST CITY OF MELBOURNE. Directed Gus Berger | Australia | 2022 | 80mins.
Melbourne in the 1850s was the fastest growing city in the world. They dreamt
big, they built big and as historian Robyn Annear observes, “it was a city jumping
out of its skin”.
As Melbourne grew, it became an epicentre of film culture and its hotels,
restaurants and cafes became world renowned. Coupled with the city’s grand
Victorian architecture, it was a first-class destination for travellers.
But, in the 1950s, with the impending Queen’s visit and then the ‘56 Olympic
Games, Melburnians felt a deep-seated feeling of embarrassment that they
might be perceived as backward on the world’s stage. Our buildings were
deemed too Victorian, too old fashioned and the demolition blitz began.
‘Whelan The Wrecker’ was brought in to demolish the old city and over the next
twenty years we lost many treasured buildings. With the introduction of
television, the same year as the Olympic Games, the audiences for our cinemas
were decimated and they too were felled by the wrecker’s ball. When
Melbourne was primed to lose the Regent Theatre to make way for a city square,
the population was galvanised into saving what they still had left. This is a story
of Melbourne. The Lost City of Melbourne.