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Hi, this is Kathryn Millard and I’m reading from “The Talkies”.
I stand outside Berggasse 19, Vienna reading its brass plate: ‘Prof. Dr. Freud 3-4’. The founder of psychoanalysis moved in not long after this building was completed in 1891, living and working in two connected flats. Bundled up in a coat, scarf and gloves, I try not to shiver. In Australia, January is the height of summer but here it is mid winter; daily temperatures peak at around one degree. I step inside, grateful for the central heating, as I climb the stairs to the Freud Museum, located in the former consulting rooms. Ahead of me, a shadow falls across the stairs. Is it a trick of the light as my eyes adjust from the blinding white of the snow-clad streets to this tobacco-stained interior? Or could it be the ghost of one of Freud’s former patients?
Despite his avowed lack of interest in cinema, Freud had pencilled in a meeting with Charlie Chaplin during the actor’s visit to Vienna. Did Chaplin’s derby ever hang side by side with Freud’s fedora, I wonder, as I open the door to the psychoanalyst’s waiting room? Did Charlie Chaplin avail himself of Freud’s professional services? In 1931 City Lights had just been released and the actor and director was in the midst of a triumphant European tour. London, Paris, Rome, Venice, in each city, crowds turned out to greet him. ‘Charlie’s getting a wonderful reception’, Pathé’s narrator enthuses in a newsreel. Grown men in suits climb trees in search of a glimpse of the comic Everyman. Charlie! Charlie! The calls seem to come from every direction as a relaxed and smiling Chaplin is ushered through train stations, hoisted onto his minders’ shoulders and carried above the seas of people.
One newsreel, though, tells a different story. Black and white rushes show the actor aboard a gondola as it glides through the canals of Venice. The images are eerily mute. Although the cheering crowds are now absent, the cameraman keeps filming – perhaps hoping to capture the world’s most famous face in an unguarded moment. The no-longer-smiling Chaplin turns his hat in his hands – like a set of worry beads – as he waits for the boatman to deliver him to his next destination. But what was that destination?
ABOUT KATHRYN MILLARD:
Kathryn is an essayist and filmmaker.
Random 8, is her new short feature inspired by social psychology experiments.
Kathryn’s previous films include: The Boot Cake (2008) an award-winning feature documentary about Chaplin imitators in India; the feature film Travelling Light (2003) nominated for 4 AFI awards and winner of ‘Best Supporting Actress’, the short feature Parklands (1996) with Cate Blanchett in her first film role, and the documentary Light Years (1991) about the life and work of photographer, Olive Cotton.
She’s written for print and radio and worked as a dramaturge for film and theatre. Kathryn is Professor of Film and Creative Arts at Sydney’s Macquarie University.
Her monograph, Screenwriting in a Digital Era, will be published by Palgrave early in 2013.
You can watch a trailer for Kathryn’s new film Random 8 at
And check out the trailer for Kathryn’s film about Chaplin devotees in India ‘The Boot Cake’ at
“The Talkies is an excerpt from Double Exposure: a non-fiction manuscript in progress about me and Charlie Chaplin … and the whole messy business of life and work and art and crises of the creative kind.” Kathryn Millard
“BTW, it’s Charlie Chaplin’s birthday – and saint’s day for his devotees – April 16th.”
Millard, K, ‘Character Drift’ in Wet Ink: a Magazine of New Writing’ No. 22, March 2011
Millard, K, The Window in the laboratory: Stanley Milgram as Filmmaker in ‘The Psychologist’ Vol. 24, Part 9, pp. 658-661
Millard, K, ‘The Screenplay as Prototype’ in Nelmes, Jill Ed. Screenplay Analysis, Oxon: Routledge, 2010
Millard, K, ‘After the Typewriter: The Screenplay in a Digital Era’ in ‘Journal of Screenwriting’ Vol. 1 (1) pp.11-25 Intellect: UK, 2009
Millard, K, Writer/Producer/Director ‘The Boot Cake’, Feature-length Essay Film, 2008
Millard, K, ‘Writing and Improvising the Digital Essay Film: The Boot Cake, Australian Screen Production Education and Research association Refereed Conference proceedings 2008, http://www.aspera.org.au/node29
Millard, K, ‘Beyond the Gospel of Story: Writing for the Screen’ in Scan (Special Issie on Cinematic Scriptwriting) Vol. 3 (2) 2006 http://scan.net.au
Millard, K, Writer/Director ‘Travelling Light’ Feature Film, 2003
Millard, K, Writer/Director ‘Parklands’ Feature Film 1996
Millard, K, ‘Beyond the Pale: Colour and Suburbs’ in Ferber, Healy and McAuliffe Eds. Beasts of Suburbia: Re-Interpreting Cultures in Australian Suburbs, Melbourne University Press, 1994
Millard, K, ‘Morris Blue’ Essay, ‘ Island’ Summer, 1994
Millard, K, Writer/Producer/Director ‘Light Years’ One Hour Documentary, 1991
Millard, K, Writer ‘Orchestrations in Light’ One Documentary, ABC Radio National, 1990
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