Tracing provenance enhances cultural understanding
ASOPA: A history which deserves to be told

Was this 1909 Morobe film PNG’s first movie?


Movie Title shotMORRISET – ‘Aus dem Leben der Kate auf Deutsch-Neuguinea’ (‘From the life of the Kate in German New Guinea’ may well be the first moving film made in what is now Papua New Guinea.

It was the creation of Professor Richard Neuhauss (1855-1915), an ethnologist from Berlin on an expedition to German New Guinea in 1909.

I was very excited to find this 114 year old 16mm film about Kate’s life in German New Guinea.

It is black and white, as all those early films were, just 6½ minutes long and silent (the first moving pictures that talked appeared in 1926).

You can download it from the website linked to here.

Professor Neuhauss, as well as being the adventurous type, was interested in moving film production including processes whereby coloured films could be produced.

Richard Neuhauss chose a tartan jacket for his 1901 self portrait.
Richard Neuhauss chose a tartan jacket for this 1901 self portrait

For this 1901 self-portrait at left, Neuhauss chose a bright tartan jacket which owed more to his interest in investigating film coloration than it did for stylish men’s clothing.

The film was apparently shot in coastal and inland areas of the Huon Gulf in Morobe Province and shows a variety of activities in village life.

These include collecting cooking bananas, smoking tobacco in rolls of leaves, a war dance using sticks as ‘weapons’ and ghost dancing with masks.

Early films from the German colonies, most of which came from Africa between 1906 and 1916, have found a home at the German Historical Museum in Berlin.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Corney Korokan Alone

The technology then should have been able to capture (and was capable) the audio files accompanying the video file as well. Thanks regardless. Interesting record.

"The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before sound motion pictures became commercially practical" - Sound Film, Wikipedia

Paul Oates

Thanks Phil. I thought so.

Much of the traditional 'bilas' in the film clips is consistent with areas I was familiar with in the Finschhafen, Sialum and Kate or Kotte (Lutheran Mission Language) speaking areas of the Huon Peninsular.

Mana Kopa, Mana Kopa.

Philip Fitzpatrick

This link has got some geographic references Paul;

Paul Oates

Any idea where these people were filmed Peter? Some of the head gear looks familiar.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)