Mateship – Australia & USA: A Century Together


For a century, the United States of America and Australia have fought side by side in every major conflict. It’s one of the longest alliances in modern history.

The relationship hasn’t always been easy or even. Both countries have changed dramatically since 1918 when they first fought together at Hamel, France in World War 1. The scale of US power has transformed the world. But this friendship, forged in battle, shaped also by long exchanges of ideas, people and trade, is a fascinating story of trust, difference, loyalty and respect: what Australians would call mateship.

Mateship – Australia & USA: A Century Together is told via the present tense journey of renowned journalist Mike Munro through key places and periods in the history of the US-Australian relationship. Mike encounters places, objects and people that bring the past to life. The film also draws on the rich moving and still archives of Australians and Americans at war and at peace.

Key military history includes WW1, the Battle of Hamel; stunning attacks by Japan on both America and Australia in WW2 then the allies learn to fight together together in Papua New Guinea as they start to push back Japanese forces; the Cold War and shared initial enthusiasm for the Vietnam War descending into  protest and  defeat that, for a time, challenges ideas about war itself; the day the world changed – 9/11 and beyond, the war on terror, fighting in the Middle East; and the rise of China.

The film also embraces political, economic and cultural history: the reach of Hollywood after WW1; love and hate when US forces flood Australia during WW2; our shared passion for (mostly American) consumer goods and the comforts of suburban life in the 1950s; social revolution during the Vietnam era; and how the rise of Aussie films, music and business influences America, going some way to evening up the cultural exchange from the 1980s to the present.

The film is a documentary buddy movie in which each generation of characters re- forges the partnership in new ways. Fascinating relationships include former-pacifist Australian PM John Curtin and General Douglas MacArthur; Australian war bride Dorothy Pence Berry and her husband Edward; Vietnam veterans still flying a restored Huey helicopter Geoff Carr and Andy Perry; Richard Nixon and Gough Whitlam (who were never mates); and former Generals Jim Molan (Australia) and George W. Casey Jr (USA) who collaborated closely in Iraq.

The film embraces the grand sweep of history through personal stories – an epic of mateship across 100 years of sweeping change.