Charles Chauvel (Charles Edward Chauvel)
BiographyWarwick, Queensland, Australia
Charles Chauvel was born in Queensland, Australia in 1897 to land owners in the south. After minding his family's farm while his father was at war with the Australian Light Horse in Sinai, he went to Sydney against his father's wishes to study drama. After some work in the movies looking after horses, he followed his idol, Rex "Snowy" Baker to America where he found odd jobs, eventually getting some minor parts in some movies. He returned to Australia and in 1926 made his first feature film, "The Moth of Moonbi". Read more... to become Charles' wife in June 1927. After the birth of their daughter Suzanne, the Chauvels travelled across the Pacific to Pitcairn Island and later Tahiti in their quest to make the film In the Wake of the Bounty (1933), a film which launched the career of Errol Flynn. In 1934 Chauvel began work on the film "Heritage" in response to an offer from the Australian Government of a prize for the best Australian made film. It was an historical epic tracing 150 years of Australian history, and after it's release in 1935 went on to win the prize. After making "Uncivilized", a film which Chauvel was never happy with, Charles and Elsa went to Hollywood to brush up on film techniques, before returning to Australia to make the war film, 40,000 Horsemen (1940). This film was an account of the Australian Light Horse and was a fitting honour to "these dauntless riders and their gallant horses." It was a world-wide success. Charles and Elsa made several war documentaries, "Soldiers Without Uniforms", "The Power to Win", "While There is Still Time", "A Mountain Goes to Sea" and "Russia Aflame" (1942) before making another feature film. The Fighting Rats of Tobruk (1944) was a drama set in north-east Libya where the Australian soldiers were fighting Rommel's forces. Live ammunition was used during filming to achieve a realistic effect. When released, soldiers were most impressed with this film for its accuracy in portraying their experiences. The Rugged O'Riordans (1950) was a story based upon the lives of the O'Reilly family who had been pioneers in Australia. It follows three generations of the O'Riordan family from the 1890s. "Sons of Matthew" was filmed under difficult conditions which included almost constant rain. In spite of the large expenses for the production, this film made a healthy profit after a publicity campaign in Britain and USA. Charles decided to make a film in the Northern Territory, Australia, and after a reconnaissance trip which provided several fascinating stories, the story of an Aboriginal woman, Jedda, was formed. The first colour feature film made in Australia, Jedda the Uncivilized (1955) was the story of an Aboriginal woman, Jedda, who was fostered by white parents and promised in marriage to Joe, a part-Aboriginal who worked on their station. Marbuck, an Aboriginal from another tribe kidnaps Jedda and condemned by his own tribe eventually takes the two of them to their deaths. Over the next few years, Charles and Elsa travelled around Australia, making a series of documentaries for the BBC, before Charles died suddenly of a heart attack in 1959.