Charles Bean’s Great War
The greatest war correspondent in WW1 reporting to you from the frontline.
In this dramatised documentary, Charles Bean, war correspondent, obsessive historian and reluctant mythmaker; tells us all about his remarkable life, from the playing fields of England via the Australian outback, to the maelstrom of the Great War.
Charles Bean was a lawyer of no success, a writer of no great promise, and a journalist of no great talent. It was to be the greatest war the world had seen that made him. He was a war correspondent and he wrote a history. The best history written about that war anywhere, any time, from any nation. It took him 23 years.
Bean loved Australia the way most people love another person. And as so often happens in love, Australia let him down.
Charles Bean’s Great War – Trailer
Charles Bean’s Great War extras – Behind the Scenes Pt 1
Charles Bean’s Great War extras – Behind the Scenes Pt 2
Charles Bean’s Great War extras – Behind the Scenes Pt 3
Charles Bean’s Great War extras – Behind the Scenes Pt 4
Charles Bean’s Great War extras – Historians discuss… Charles Bean, the man
Charles Bean’s Great War extras – Historians discuss… Charles Bean’s hopes for Australia
Charles Bean’s Great War extras – Historians discuss… John Farnham & Anzac Day
Charles Bean’s Great War extras – Historians discuss… The Australian War Memorial
Charles Bean’s Great War extras – Historians discuss… The History
Charles Bean’s Great War extras - In Your Hands, Australia
Charles Bean saw every single day of the most traumatic event in modern Australian history. It was the Great War, and what he saw, defined his life, and our identity.
He wrote a history. It took him 20 years. It’s the best history of that war written by anyone anywhere. He was the driving force behind the Australian War Memorial, and he turned down a Knighthood three times.
When he turned it down he said, ‘the system encourages false values among our people, and that our generation needs above everything to see and aim at true values.’
Charles Bean glimpsed a new society in the men ascending the slopes of Gallipoli and in the fields of France. He thought these men would return home and build a bold new democratic civilization in cities with broad streets shaded by tall gums. Their rivers would flow and be clear, their children would stand upright in the sun and read books in state schools dedicated to producing men and women who were free thinkers and who loved truth.
In his eyes, it never happened. ‘We could have achieved almost anything’, he said, ‘we abandoned our youth to the mercy, too often, of political and industrial crooks, wreckers of every fine ideal. We failed, failed wretchedly.’
Charles Bean was born a year before Ned Kelly was hanged, and he died during the Apollo space program. In his later years, he had the wisdom, anger and pessimism of a man who had passed from the Victorian, to the Modern world.
Almost no one knows, or remembers, who Charles Bean was. It is astonishing that no biography has been written of this man who lived to chronicle, love, define and sorrow for a nation.
- Study Guide
- Director and Writer
John Moore and Lisa Horler
- Director of Photography
Jaems Grant, ACS
Steven Robinson, ASE
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
SBS – Special Broadcasting Service
Phone: 1800 500 727 (toll free)