The Years that Made Us

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Sun­day, 9.25pm, ABC1 Are we made by the times and peo­ple that went be­fore us? Aus­tralian mythol­ogy has it that the na­tion was forged in the trenches at Gal­lipoli in 1915. In this re­mark­able three­part doc­u­men­tary se­ries, jour­nal­ist and author Chris Masters of­fers a dif­fer­ent view. He claims that far from bring­ing the na­tion to­gether, World War I tore the place apart. The De­pres­sion fol­lowed and, just when things were start­ing to look up, World War II was upon our par­ents, grand­par­ents and great grand­par­ents. Masters fo­cuses on the years from 1919 to 1939, a time he says saw Aus­tralia change from a south­ern ex­ten­sion of Bri­tain to a South­east Asian na­tion. In last week’s de­but, Roar­ing 20s, he pre­sented the pe­riod through the prism of three war heroes in­clud­ing his great un­cle James ‘‘ Judy’’ Masters. In this episode, Sur­vival, we jump for­ward to 1929. The ALP is back in power un­der PM James Scullin af­ter 12 years in the wilder­ness. But be­gin­ning with the fa­mous Wall Street crash just a week af­ter he is elected, Scullin faces shock­ing re­ces­sion and un­em­ploy­ment in a coun­try di­vided along class lines. The years from 1929 to 1933 be­come the great­est cri­sis in Aus­tralian his­tory. A mas­ter­ful retelling, with stun­ning archival footage and re-en­act­ments that won’t make you cringe as those in Whit­lam may have done.

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