ABC1 to screen lost Sydney Opera House film

Louise Duffy | 03-10-2013

Autopsy On a Dream, a controversial and provocative BBC film about the building of the Sydney Opera House, directed by John Weiley in 1968 and thought to be lost for 45 years, will have its first Australian television screening this month (October) on ABC1.

Weiley was commissioned to direct and produce the film by the then BBC Two Controller David Attenborough. A story of the building’s construction and architect Jorn Utzon’s ultimate departure from the project, the film caused controversy from the outset.
The ABC tried to stop it being made, and after its BBC screening in 1968 Weiley was advised the film had been destroyed on a chopping block in the BBC archive.
However, a mute print of the film was rediscovered in a BBC vault this year by an ABC researcher on the Sydney Opera House Project As it turned out only the soundtrack was destroyed. Having kept the transcripts and sound, Weiley and his team have put the original film back together.
Weiley has also created a new prologue called The Dream of Perfection, telling the story of the lost film and bringing the story up to date, featuring interviews with Sir David Attenborough, Jan and Lin Utzon, the sons of Jorn Utzon, and architect Richard le Plaistrier, plus many others.
Weiley said: “I was in shock. It was like getting a call from a child who I thought had been lost many years before."
Autopsy On A Dream, with Bob Ellis recreating his original narration, will have its Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House in October nd will then screen for the first time on Australian television on Sunday 20 October at 9.25pm, ABC1.
Mark Scott, managing director of ABC, said: “We have been delighted to showcase the Opera House through the creation of the dazzling Opera House Project website. Now we are thrilled to be partners in the restoration and presentation of the landmark film Autopsy On A Dream.
"The ABC has showcased countless outstanding performances from the Opera House on radio and television over the past 40 years. We are proud to bring the story of this building and its fascinating history to Australian audiences everywhere.”
Autopsy On A Dream is directed by John Weiley and the remastered film is produced by John Maynard for Felix Media with the support of the BBC, Screen Australia and ABC Arts.