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Autopsy On A Dream -

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(generated from captions) Captions by CSI Australia

JOHN WEILEY: The Sydney Opera House
was always much more than a building. It was a dream, a moral challenge, a test of will, a sacrificial altar, a love affair, a nightmare.

It had a huge impact on the lives
of everyone involved, and not just on the
central characters of the story.

When work on the Opera House
commenced, I was a teenage trainee-film-director
with ABC TV. Amongst my tasks was regular coverage
of construction work on the building. As the months and the years passed,
I grew up with it, wading through puddles
in the stage machinery pit, and as they emerged, climbing
the sails to find new angles. I shot my first film there, a musical interlude
featuring a ghostly girl wandering through the concrete maze.

Australia at that stage
was in a state of turmoil. We were in revolt against the
traditional culture of Australia. We rejected the whole thing,
the ANZAC Day thing, the beer in the pubs,
the six o'clock swill, the cultural cringe. That sensibility, that prevailing
orthodoxy kept people in line. And people didn't step out of line because of what
the neighbours might think. And that narrowed the possibilities
in the visual arts, in everything. And a lot of people think that
the '60s sort of began in the '60s, but the ferment was starting
to happen in the late '50s. Tonnes of people
were sort of experimenting and trying to
break through something none of us were quite sure of. We couldn't breathe, actually,
in the '50s.

And when this thing was announced,
when this Opera House was announced, it was such a breakout. It was so extraordinary that anybody
would dare to have such an idea. It was such a perfect expression
of the hopes that we had. It became the thing
on which we hung our hopes.

I shared a big Paddington house with other young students,
artists and models. Through a long chain of coincidences, a new arrival turned out
to be Lin Utzon, the 17-year-old daughter of Jorn, set to become an art student
at East Sydney Tech. The first day we arrived, I remember driving with my
father's assistant through Sydney. And everything was brown-red bricks and those tiles
they had on the pubs. And it was a pub day,
I think it was a Saturday. There were loads of drunk people,
and not at all what I'd imagined. I imagined Australia
to be really exotic, which it wasn't at first. And then of course you realise how
incredibly marvellous the place is. And exotic, and strange,
and upside down. I remember having to stand up
in the movie theatre for God Save the Queen.

And my parents,
they were whisked away for a luncheon
at the Royal Yacht Britannia with Queen Elizabeth
and Prince Phillip when we arrived. When the Opera House
started to be built, there was incredible
feeling of optimism amongst people who were creative.

And something new did come of it. The intellectual level, the dreams,
the hopes and the aspirations. And it became important
to express what Australia was. You had Oz Magazine protesting about all the things
they were protesting about. You had literature changing,
you had the women's lib movement, you had lots of things
happening in film, if I remember.

Consciousness about
being Australian, what you could do
in your own country, not always relating it to England,
was different. And the level that you
were aiming for was different. So there was a fervour
amongst the friends I had. Everybody wanted to do something, everybody dreamed to become,
you know, brilliant and wonderful
at what they were doing.

Lin and I became very close friends
and we remained so all of our lives. I got to know the family well, but when the controversy erupted,
my situation became very complicated.

My father was a Member of Parliament. He used to sit right here on the
same side of politics as Davis Hughes who, as Shadow Minister
for Public Works, and led the opposition attack on
the government's Opera House project. In fact they had
adjoining electorates and they were good friends. And it wasn't all that
uncommon for me to find myself spending the day
with the Utzons at Palm Beach, and then coming back into the city to have dinner with my father
and Davis Hughes here at Parliament House. Got quite complicated at times.

Bludgeoned with stories of
incompetence and extravagance, a board electorate, after 24 years,
dropped Labor and delivered the Opera House into
the waiting hands of Davis Hughes, it's loudest critic. For most politicians, the Opera House was no more than a political weapon
that had done its job. But for Davis Hughes
it was a dream come true, and he couldn't wait
to get his hands on it. He quickly manoeuvred Utzon
into an impossible position.

'Aren't you proud of me? I'm Mr
Davis Hughes, Minister for Culture. I've just achieved
the greatest personal success of my political career, forcing that Danish prima donna
to resign.' It was like a cut.
My father said, 'We are leaving. There's no way it'll be possible
to go on with the work here.' And it was a huge shock, like somebody had just taken
the veil away from your eyes. And there was another reality. The press was hounding him,
they besieged the house, nobody knowing that
it was in a way so planned that he didn't
have a chance to stay.

JAN: All his life,
he is always driven to perfect his ideas from yesterday,
so to speak. Because he could see
a better solution, and the better solutions
come from working on a problem. You can always have a solution
out of him. But he could, of course,
have been more politically astute, and say, 'OK, let's do the next best
thing and give them what they want at the rate of what they want.' But to him that would have been
less than perfect. Very much less than perfect. So he didn't want to do that.

I do remember walking down
to the Bennelong. That's probably the first time I saw
a political demonstration in Sydney. You'd hear about them in
South Africa, in other places. And I was incredibly
touched by that. And I have to say that,
at that time, I wouldn't have given much
of a stuff about opera back then. It wasn't the opera that got me, it was the kind of gallantry
that got Utzon and his admirers.

The protests came, I think,
as a big surprise to everybody. The notion that thousands of people
would gather to challenge an essentially
artistic question, you know, whether or not
qualified people could finish off the work
of an artist, whether somebody else could come in and finish off a Rembrandt
or whatever, was posed. And it was answered by this
extraordinary demonstration. And there was a fantastic crowd. Everyone - deans of architecture,
young students, people who had nothing to do
with art or architecture.

I was one with the demonstrators, and on the other hand
I was able to run ahead of them and get into the Parliament House on the strength of
my father's membership. And be on the veranda
of Parliament House while my friends in the thousands
were out the front, demonstrating against what was
happening to the Opera House. And I have to say, it was
a life-changing experience for me because the reaction of the
politicians, even of my own father, was so negative and so deaf
to what was being said to them that I thought, 'This is hopeless,
this is going nowhere. We are never going to break out
of this thing.' And it really was what decided me
to just get on a plane and get out of Australia.

London in the '60s, the place to be. Creativity was king
and Old England in full retreat.

It was the decade
of Make Love Not War and students taking over
the streets of Paris, of leaders being driven out
of office, of Swinging London. I had a great job
at Granada Television, but I had unfinished business
back in Australia. Like every exile, I had a story
that I desperately wanted to tell. A story about Australia,
and the Opera House and the dream of perfection. So in 1968, I took the idea
to the new and adventurous BBC2.

The young David Attenborough
was the head of BBC2, and he gave me the go ahead. You suggested the idea
and you were a young filmmaker. And if you were interested
in cultural things, which BBC2,
the network I was responsible for, prided itself on being, the whole of the story of the
Opera House, and Utzon and so on, was very, very interesting. And not just a simple story, a highly complex story
with all kinds of issues. So I thought it was a great idea
for a documentary. VOICE-OVER: The BBC production
manager sent off the usual request to ABC in Australia for the use
of a camera crew and equipment. For the first time ever,
the answer was no. So I got a call from David
Attenborough who said, 'There's a bit of a problem with
this Opera House film of yours.' So I went to his office
and he was reading from a telex, a long, foot-long telex
from Talbot Duckmanton, general manager of the ABC, telling Attenborough flatly that the BBC was not to make a film
about the Opera House, particularly not a film about
the Opera House made by John Weiley, the known critic of the ABC's plan to change the dual-purpose theatre
into a concert hall. And David read extracts
from this telex to me and said, 'Well, you know,
they can get fucked.' And this was an international story. And if the boot had been
put on the other foot and I rang up the ABC and said that they weren't to cover
something in Britain, they would tell me what to do. And I did my best. (Laughs) In English terms,
suggested what he might do. And he just said,
'Take the money that you need, and hire a crew and make the film.'
And I did. The Sydney Opera House:
Autopsy on a Dream was made and screened
in September 1968. And it made a big impression
on people. We organised a special screening for
the expatriate community in London, the Australian community in London
at the time. And at the ICA,
the Institute of Contemporary Art. And the screening
was quite extraordinary. And quite a few people left in tears because it's hard now to explain just how passionately
people felt about Australia, and about it's potential and about what seemed to be
it's frustrated potential. When I saw the Opera House film
I was really quite moved. It was a terrific experience for me,
I still remember it. And it was interesting talking
to my friends, my British friends, because all they
knew about Australia was the vision of Australia, the land of golden beaches
and kangaroos. But this was actually talking about
Australian anti-intellectualism, was talking about the way
the media hounded Utzon. It was talking about how the conservative political
parties in Australia conspired to make electoral
advantage out of an artistic vision. I was really cognisant of all
the politicking and backsliding and, you know,
loss of creative nerve and so on that had been going on
to produce that situation. It summed up all of the reasons
why I'd left Australia. It's a great tragedy. And that
tragedy comes across in the film. In the process of making the film I'd come to greatly like and admire
Ove Arup, head of the giant London-based
engineering company that was responsible for
the structure of the Opera House. I visited Arup at his home
in Highgate, came to think of him as a friend. I was awed by his honesty and his commitment to try to make
something perfect. So, the film went out and seemed
to have gone down very well. But the next day I spoke to Ove, and to my dismay found
that he was very upset. His partners had been calling him,
saying, 'What are you doing, Ove,
telling these stories about your concerns about whether
or not you should have resigned on some television show?' He was very upset by them
being upset, and with me. And I felt rather conflicted myself, because I wasn't feeling
all that confident that I had done... ..that I'd made the film
with pure intentions of simply telling the truth, or whether I'd included this stuff
of Ove because maybe it was very dramatic, and maybe, you know, would sort of
make the movie more exciting. I couldn't wait to leave behind the ethical minefield
of documentary truth. So I packed up my Deux Chevaux, picked up my editor
and we headed off to Crete.

The film had consumed entirely
a year of my life. I'd given it my all, not just for
myself or even for the Opera House. It was a generation's lament
for a homeland lost, a dream of perfection abandoned,
left for mammon to infest.

Months later, I returned to London
and the BBC. I joined the team
at Tomorrow's World, a technology show that I was sure
would throw up no ethical dilemmas. But my colleagues there were keen to see my now notorious
Opera House film. I went to the library at the BBC
and asked for a print, and the guy there said,
'No, no. That's been destroyed.' And I was gobsmacked,
I couldn't believe what he was saying and literally it was
incomprehensible. I said, 'You're kidding. Nothing's
destroyed. Nothing's ever destroyed.' And he said, 'Oh, yes it is.' And said, 'When we get
a destroy order, we put it on the chopping block
and we chop it up. And that's the end of it.' And I was completely...
I was in shock. I couldn't believe that
this could really happen.

The notion that it should be
destroyed was something new to me. Certainly you can put labels
on things and you can say, 'This can only be used
under some circumstances, and you got it cleared
and that's fine.' But actually physically
to destroy it was surprise to me. And, of course, that happened because it was taken
out of my hands. I mean, I was
the network controller, but it proceeded very quickly
beyond me to director-generals and chief lawyers
and one thing or another. And the problems that were coming
with Arup and so on, as to legal action
that was threatened. Now, I don't know,
I was not involved in that and know nothing about it. But I gathered subsequently that
the reason the action was taken was, OK, everybody was getting
very heated, and there was going to
be a lot of legal action. There was going to be
a lot of trouble, and it would be solved by
that one action and they took it, unknown to me.

I never was told
just what the problem was. And 45 years later,
the BBC still won't tell me. Decades passed and
I went onto a successful career producing documentaries for the BBC, then feature films in Australia
and Imax films all over the world. I remain close to the Utzons,
visiting them in Denmark and Majorca. But I never forgot Autopsy
and the wound never quite healed. Year after year I wrote letters to other broadcasting corporations
in New Zealand, and Canada, and in Denmark
and in the United States, searching to just see if there might have been a print
that had survived somewhere. And the answer was always no. JAN: I'd often ask my father, 'Are you sorry about
having to leave the Opera House?' And he said,
'Yes. In many ways I am. But in other ways, I'm realistic, and I know that
many, many structures that we look upon in Europe
and elsewhere have been erected and developed
over several generations.' And he and I went to
the cathedral in Palma in Majorca, a huge cathedral. And we talked to a guy there
showing people around. We said,
'When did they start building this?' And they said, '1100-something.' 'And when was it completed?' And he said, 'Oh, it's not complete
yet. They're still working on it.'

(Applause)

PRESENTER: And it came to pass, after many long years
of pains and labours, that the inspiration
transformed into reality was ready for an official opening.

Here it stands on the water's edge,
a thing of beauty. A new symbol for a great city. An achievement, a masterpiece. An architectural wonder and a practical, working building dedicated to the arts that uplift
the hearts and minds of mankind. A true wonder of the world.

In 1999, my father got a nice letter
from Sydney, saying that, 'If you would be
kind enough to come and help us, assist us and guide us on how to develop the Opera House
for the future.' And then the chairman of
the Sydney Opera House Trust, Joe Skrzynski, came to Denmark to
present this in a more formal way. And I remember he was a bit nervous. He was actually younger than myself, and he came for this person that he'd heard so much about
but never met. And you could see
how he slowly relaxed, when he found out how pleasant
a person my father is, or was. And he showed him various stuff, had brought some presents
from Sydney, and amongst other things
he had this picture. And he said, 'Look at this, isn't it wonderful that the harbour
is so clean? We have whales in there. Do you know what kind of whales
they are?' And my father responded,
'Yes, they're New South Wales.'

Hello. When Jan came back from Sydney he was full of enthusiasm. And when I saw you all, my dear Trust members, I felt that I didn't have a word for explaining what happened in me. But my heart is full of joy by the thought of what is to come, and by your words, your very kind words. I would say an architect
cannot ask for more than was in your words
about my work.

He became the only living architect to have a UNESCO
World Heritage Listed building, the only building of that century
to go onto the register. If we do the maintenance
there's no reason that if you came back
in 500 years time, what would still be standing
in Sydney? I dare say none of the skyscrapers
we know today. I mean, they'll have
an economic life of 50 years. This building will be here, like
the great cathedrals of Europe. Absolutely no reason why it won't. So we're dealing with something
that's here for posterity, truly. Utzon never returned to Australia, but he worked on plans for
the future of the Opera House until the end of his life, collaborating again with
the engineers from Arup's. David Hughes never saw
the building finished, and died a bitter man.

Early 2012, and we started looking
in all corners of the world for footage, resources,
people alive and dead, diaries, all sorts of materials to
tell the story of the Opera House. And one of the searches
that came back was from a company at that time
called Thought Equity, that owns a lot
of BBC archival material. There was a silent archival video... (Speaks indistinctly) ..of a film. So I didn't really know
what it sounded like, but I could instantly see that it was visually very arresting
and very exciting. So I sort of scanned to the end
and saw that it was by John Weiley and then tried to get in touch
with him via Google. I got an email, a little simple email asking for information
about this film and giving me a URL and address on
the web where I could see that film, the whole film. I was dumbfounded. It really was like some child had
been taken away for adoption at birth and then somehow I got in touch again
after 45 years. I mean, it was 45 years! And I got, within about 24 hours,
actually, it was a lovely email. It was on the weekend,
it was a very excited response, as if a prodigal son had returned
or a baby had been found. So that started
an amazing retelling of a story about a film that had been lost, some might say
butchered in the process, and a happy reunion
with it's filmmaker.

I have kept all the tapes
that we'd recorded originally. I don't know what possessed me
but I'd just kept them. I suppose it was part of my refusal
to admit that the thing was gone. But having kept them, they were there
and the image was there, so the movie was made, again. Many of the aspects of the story
have faded in terms of their resonance. Many of the emotional pains
and conflicts have gone, and a modern audience might not
understand how difficult, how painful, how wrenching
some of these questions were, and how creative
the whole process was, and all of those tensions
and contradictions. But Autopsy Of A Dream brings
all that right back into focus and gives us a view of Sydney
as it was, living and breathing. I love all the images
of the city at the time, the people at the time. There's a wonderful sort of
vox pop sense of opinion and nature of the city, a city completely at that point
of blossoming in the '60s. If this whole saga and all the decades that have passed
have taught us anything, it's that the Opera House
is not a project. It's not a project that
has a beginning and a finish. It's... it's a cathedral. It's a cathedral to
the whole idea of excellence, and, indeed, the whole idea
of pursuing perfection. If you go in pursuit of perfection,
you risk failure. In fact, the chances are
you're going to fail. But the whole motivation, the whole idea of
struggling for perfection is at the core of our being. We just have to have that
in our lives, and to have such an expression
of that as the Sydney Opera House is just a gift. It's a gift to the whole world. Captions by CSI Australia -
Sam Shilson-Josling

NARRATOR: It's an object
like no other object. Not so much a building as a thing. A thing like a pyramid
or a druid's altar. An object of almost
ancient reverence, a gesture towards the infinite,
like St Peter's.

Yet its gothic arches
point up to no God, only to an ideal of
functional excellence. Unfinished, it'll cost £50 million, and was hailed by world architects
as a turning point, a new dimension. The most unified, big work of art
ever designed. And yet, it's a failure. An appalling fiasco. A 4.5-acre, 220-foot-high scandal, an Antipodean Tower of Babel, the centre of a nation's debate
on how much art is worth and the greatest continuing
local joke on record.

Big white sails,
a full wind and nowhere to go. The Sydney Opera House, product of a people who
had a genial bash at culture and then went back to their beer. But, oh, what a lovely bash!

# Here in this God-given
land of ours, Australia # This proud possession,
our own piece of earth # That was built by our fathers
who pioneered our heritage # Here in Australia,
the land of our birth # God bless Australia # Our land, Australia # Home of the ANZAC,
the strong and the free # It's our homeland,
our own land # To cherish for eternity # God bless Australia,
the land of the free. # RADIO PRESENTER: Sir Francis Drake
would've if he could've listened to the new UW - the one that really bowls them over. RADIO PRESENTER: The time is 26
and a quarter to 12. We'll have the news coming away
at 12:00, and that's followed by
Baby John Burgess... NARRATOR: In a land where there's
always a king tide running and a summer for ever
to spend on the beach, in a Pepsi Cola culture,
a gentler Texas of the South Seas where the rough idealism of
the bush anthem of the fathers is a far cry from the
virile materialism of the sons. Where history is regarded
as a European luxury and culture of distraction from
the serious business of pleasure. Where noble headlands
submerge under seas of red bungalows, it seems a bit odd that the people should
perform a cultural act of faith and build an opera house
when they had nothing to put in it. How did it happen here? Australians believe that they have
a kind of 'give it a go' quality, that there's something
rather thoughtless about us. We like to kind of plunge
into an action without thinking about it very much, and I think that that's certainly
true of the Opera House. It was something that was just
kind of bundled together. Sir Eugene Goossens, the conductor,
suggested it first. He vastly improved
the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and wanted a big, permanent
auditorium for its performances.

He asked the New South Wales Premier
Joseph Cahill, a former railway employee, for a dual-purpose concert hall
and opera house. The Premier rather liked
the idea of opera. Probably just a vague, wishy-washy,
cultural idea. He may have thought of suburban
daughters improving themselves, something of that kind. Cahill was the sort of politician that we've encountered
only too rarely in Australia. For one thing, he was a superb
political manipulator, or operator. However, unlike a large number
of political operators, he wasn't content just
with power for its own sake. He was genuinely concerned to try
and improve the quality of life in the state of New South Wales. NARRATOR: Somehow in spite
of its brilliant location, Sydney in the '50s
still managed to look dowdy. Neville Cardus called it
'Manchester by the Sea'. Cahill felt it needed a focal point for its increasing wealth
and sophistication. Sydney is not a place
that has any centre. It has no sense of social hierarchy,
no common sense of social values. It's just a fissiparous
kind of place, dashing around meaninglessly
like atoms. And out of all this dashing around, of course
sometimes good things can come and sometimes bad things can come. In this case, it's a good thing
and something that could possibly, just possibly,
change the nature of the city. Now if they'd been honest about it, they would've built
a sports stadium. In fact, one's promised, but we won't see that for
another 40 years either. They're still pushing the beaches. They needed something else,
so they built an opera house.

Cahill ran an
architectural competition for a building on this site. Many entries looked like the big civic status symbol
everyone expected. But there was an upset victory. Jorn Utzon had grown up
in Helsingor in Denmark. Now 39, he'd won several competitions
before, and a reputation for being fiercely
independent and uncompromising. Now, very few of these audacious
designs had ever actually been built. One that was, a housing settlement,
demonstrated his belief that a design should grow
out of the landscape itself and look like a single
living organism, a totality.

Every rise and fall of the landscape
should be left untouched and the buildings moulded
to enhance the location.

And it was the location that excited
him about the Sydney competition. A few hundred yards
from the city centre and yet completely isolated from it, it was on a narrow tongue of land
jutting out into a graceful harbour. Anything he built there
would be visible from all sides and also from above, so there could
be no ventilation pipes on the roof and no fire escapes on the sides,
because they could be seen. And somehow he had to build
a massive theatre complex with big towers
for the stage machinery into something as beautiful
as the harbour itself. After months,
he came up with a design that was like nothing
ever done before. But by then, there was no time left
to work out the harrowing details. So, he sent in only the
general sketches and imagined therefore,
that he had no chance of winning. VOICE-OVER: The first prize
of £5,000 was won by Danish-born Jorn Utzon. A storm of controversy follows. Some say it's wonderful,
others think it's dreadful. It will cost £3.5 million. The winner of the world contest that should make Sydney
and its people proud. We don't need it! We've got a beautiful country
and we've got all we need in it. Just by being here, we've got
what we need to make the country. We don't need that much else.

NARRATOR: The judges said
Utzon's plans were simple to the point
of being diagrammatic, and technically they'd
broken the competition rules. But as architects themselves, they felt that the general
breadth of the imaginative concept was a more important consideration
than rules. Utzon got straight to work. He chose as his engineers
the famous English firm of Ove Arup and Partners. This was obviously something
quite unusual, something special. And naturally,
from that point of view, I was extremely interested in it, because it's the sort of thing
I like. In a way, it's much more exciting to have to do something
which really is a challenge. It was a form,
it was a kind of sculpture which would be seen
from all sides of the harbour. NARRATOR: The premier said
it looked like a crocodile.

But despite conservative opposition,
he stuck by his adventurous project. But he knew politically that the
building had to get underway now or it never would. The Bennelong tram sheds fell. The government would
have done a better job if they'd left the old tram sheds
there and kept the trams on the road. I mean, when it's all said and done, would I be able to go to
the Opera House?

There was a question of whether
this would actually happen or not. And this was one of the...
this was all the time said, that unless we can get it started
now and make it fait accompli, this is probably
never going to happen. Starting now meant they
had to begin work on the site less than two years after
they'd began work on the plans, which was four years
before they should have. The early start was
a political necessity, but it was an architectural disaster,
because it meant all their mistakes would
be in concrete and steel as well as in ink and paper, and the costs would skyrocket. Both architect and engineers
protested loudly, but they had to bow to politics. After seeing the world produce
nothing but repetitive, rather dull, mediocre curtain-wall buildings, it's understandable
that this flamboyant, almost poetic gesture of a building was something that really
caught everyone's imagination. Harry Seidler, architect of
Australia's tallest building was one of the only three Australians whose entries in the
Opera House competition won the commendation of the judges. It was wholeheartedly accepted,
not only... It would appear
to be professionally, but by the public at large. Everyone, literally,
was just enthusiastic about it.

VOICE-OVER: We have a sort of
a sponge culture here, just soaking up anything
that happens to float by across the Pacific. And that's why a lot of people
were quite excited about the idea of the Opera House, because it could get us out of that. It could make us contributing
members of world culture.

Cahill had sense to know he couldn't
build an Australian opera house on the people's love of culture, so he based it instead on
the people's love of gambling. First prize, 37601. A lot of people weren't too taken with the ends of
his opera house lottery,

Utzon offered
the maximum flexibility. Two amphitheatres rose out
of the great concrete platform, the larger for concerts,
opera and ballet, the smaller for drama. The wide steps rising up
to the concourse would keep pedestrian patrons clear
of the traffic area that it spanned. Then the two streams of patrons
would converge in the foyers and move into their seats, facing back toward
the 100-square-foot hole that would be covered by the stage. The stage itself would be made
of nine great lifts that would drop down to the level
of the scenery area for set changes. The smaller theatre and chamber music
room was set into the base itself. The early start
and the many late changes had multiplied into problems
of architect and engineer, and the base cost twice
the original estimate. And then there was the problem
of the roof. Although it posed enormous
difficulties of construction, the engineers were inspired by the
challenge of actually building it. The whole idea, as it were,
this extraordinary dream, this poetic thing
which Utzon created became a vision for all of us, because it was so unusual
in this day and age to embark on a project
of this nature. And having one's imagination fired,
one pulled out all the stocks. And we turned the whole firm
virtually upside down, inside out to try and meet this challenge. But Utzon's inspired shapes
weren't geometrical, and they couldn't be built. So Arup suggested a new shape
based on parabolas. But experiments proved that
thin concrete shells of that size would fall apart. Doggedly, his engineers began the
long search for something stronger. This is the remarkable thing
about it, it's called for this
concerted effort by so many people. We've had over...
we alone had over 200 engineers working on this scheme. And so many people have really
given so much of their time and energy to this job
for no particular monetary reward, or fame or anything else, just because they were
inspired by the thing. That in itself is a little bit
of a miracle, to be able to keep that up
for so long. They tried different sorts
of concrete, and double skins of concrete
with spaces in between, and concrete strengthened
with girders and frames that began to endanger
the simple conception. But the roof would not be moved. No amount in hundreds of thousands
of formulas fed into gnashing computers
would make the stone wings fly. The years passed, and the very shape that had made the
idea of the opera house so exciting, now it seemed was making
the real thing impossible. They kept trying. The more one heard rumours of the difficulty of designing it
structurally, the more glee was expressed
by the, you know, the run-of-the-mill
sort of practitioner. And this worked up into almost
a crescendo of, 'I told you so. This was a mad type
of thing to build,' when there were rumours that no
structural solution could be found to this magnificent shape. But this I feel
was very much silenced, and would have been replaced
in knowledgeable quarters by great admiration for the way
in which it was finally solved. In September 1961,
Utzon had an idea.

But this wasn't just
Utzon's adventure, this was the people's
opera house. Well, ah, the three of us here,
we're... The gentleman over here
is just about in Victoria, a couple of hundred miles away, while all of these other fellas,
they've come far. They've come from anywhere
between Melbourne and a couple of thousand miles
up the coast. They're down for a few days. As far as the Opera House goes, I think it's definitely
a necessity. As far as a practical point of view, as far as the finance goes,
they've gone way overboard. It's definitely become... I think
it's becoming a political thing. Sydney definitely knows. I think at the moment,
we've got the Town Hall, which is a really rather pukka barn, and the stadium
which is an out-and-out barn. The Opera House
is definitely needed. In one stroke, almost like
a Gordian Knot solution, he found not only a way for engineers to compute the thing
structurally, but he also found a way of building quite unbelievably complex shapes
and forms with virtually industrialised means. And this, I feel, made this building
a great thing by world standards.

A factory to make the segments
was set up on the site. The problems weren't over. The fiercely committed engineers now
had to place 2,194 15-tonne segments in their exact theoretical position
in space to within an inch. On a structure of that shape, the normal scaffolding method
would be slow and expensive, so they invented a new construction
technique altogether - a steel erection arch
that could telescope out and fit the shape of each rib
as it grew in the sky. Each segment's position
was checked with computers and then it was bound in place
with tensioning cables and resin. When each rib was finished, the arch was jacked out
to make room for the next. The building itself, seeing that I'm in
the building game myself, I think it's going to be
a lovely job when it's completed. But that's all it will be. I think it'll be the greatest asset
that Sydney's got. It's by far the most beautiful
building that's been even dreamt of, and it's got the peak position
in Sydney. NARRATOR: Public criticism
wasn't the only problem. Utzon was beginning to make enemies,
some of them amongst his colleagues. The engineers had tried for years
to design his parabolas, but then he had changed the problem
to spheres and solved it himself. Some of the engineers were
annoyed at his intrusion and angered by by his hurtful
patronising of their efforts. Also the public were getting bitter
over the cost. Without the engineers' agreement, the government had originally
given an estimate of only £3 million. Now, as reality came home to roost,
the estimates went up. But there was no real way
of estimating how much something that had
never been done before would cost. How much does it cost
to go to the moon? You can only tell by going there. They had to invent
a new method of building, and no-one could say what that cost. And what's the right price
for a masterpiece? This is alright. But you could've done the same thing
for 3 million instead of 30 million.

That's the grudge most people
have got against it, the cost of the thing. But most people agree
that it's worthwhile. For sure. What do you reckon? No, I reckon the cost
is not extravagant. No, not when you compare it with some of the greatest buildings
in the world.

The cost wasn't that much compared
with, say, the £400 million New South Wales
spent on gambling every year. But people didn't object to the cost
so much as the purpose. The lottery money, they said,
could've been spent on hospitals. And it could too. And so could its annual equivalent of
their gambling money for five days. When the first realistic estimate
of 17.5 million came out, only a year before
the state election, the opposition,
24 years out of power, gasped all over the headlines. And the people grew restless. When you think you could
probably build about 50 hospitals or 5,000 miles of road,
which we need enormously, or build five dams for water, now that we're in
the middle of a drought. The middle of a drought.
You've got a point there. Under the looming public threat,
the Labor Government ran scared. Cahill had died only a year
after he'd laid the foundation stone, and his successors may have wished that Joe could've taken
his opera house with him. Faced now by a growing number
of administrative scandals and holding power by
a perilously small majority, the Labor Government
were only too happy to let some of the blame
fall on Utzon.

The new Minister for Works
was Davis Hughes. Once a loud Opera House critic,
he now inspected the damage. It was politically advantageous
to find it a complete mess-up, which he did. But, he believed too
that what it needed was the down-to-earth,
common sense approach he found so lacking
in his predecessor. I had six years in control
of the project and it took me quite a while,
I must admit, to really understand, or try to
understand, what Utzon was planning, and the tremendous difficulty
of his work. And this required patience, it required understanding, and it
required time to tune in with him. And if I have any criticism at all
of the present minister, it's this - that he rushed in here
fresh from an election, and made no attempt, apparently - Mr Utzon complained that he didn't,
and it's obvious that he didn't - to understand this. And, of course, naturally,
conflict did arise. The building continued
uneasily for a while, but then a situation arose
between Utzon and Hughes that brought planning
to a standstill. The trouble came over stage three. For the glass walls
and the interior of the building, Utzon again wanted to use
his assembly line method, manufacturing thousands
of identical units worked out by a sophisticated
exercise in solid geometry. But when Hughes,
in his straightforward way, said he wanted to see
the detailed plan so HE could send them out
for tendering, Utzon didn't want to do any. It was more effective, he said,
to do what he'd done before - select a manufacturer
and work along with him until he got the desired experimental
prototype and then manufacture that. He argued that he'd used
this method on the tiles, and not only were they
completely successful, but they cost less than
any of the tendering quotes and they'd been finished before time. Now for the acoustic problem
of the ceiling, he wanted to use 50-foot-long,
six-foot-deep hollow plywood beams, all the same prefabricated shape, all derived from the
same hypothetical cylinder. And he wanted £60,000
to develop the prototypes with his chosen manufacturer. Utzon said the plans were impossible
without prototypes. Hughes wasn't impressed. It was a clash of two kinds
of practicality, the Hughes kind that wanted to see
what it was doing and what it would cost, and the Utzon kind that
wanted to do the job perfectly, without regard for the conventions.

Utzon now badly needed
the support of the engineers, but over the eight years
of disagreement and strife his once fruitful professional
companionship with Arup had been whittled away. And now Arup was painfully aware
that Utzon didn't even trust him. The fact is that the collaboration
deteriorated to a degree where it simply stopped. This put him in a very
precarious position because most Australians, I think, pride themselves on being
intensely practical people. And if there's a dispute
between an engineer, who is more or less by definition
practical, and an architect
who is always suspected of being somewhat airy-fairy, they will tend to side
with the engineer. And when the new government
came into office in 1965, they were presented
with a very easy way of making Utzon appear the scapegoat
for what had gone wrong. It was almost prima facie evidence
that he was impractical, and woolly and airy-fairy, simply because he'd fallen out
with the engineers. The final argument was over
Utzon's plans for the ceiling. The disagreement was trivial, and, in happier days,
could've been resolved. But now the engineers
rejected Utzon's scheme and submitted two alternatives
of their own. Intentionally or not,
they gave the minister evidence with which to challenge
Utzon's competence as an architect. After all the rumours about the man
not knowing what he's doing - 'It's taking too long,
it's costing so much.' And finally when the whole thing
blew up with the government - 'He obviously doesn't know
how to make working drawings', and, 'He's just a visionary and he
can't interpret things into fact.' Now, this was very much
brought home to me how wrong and how completely unfair
all these statements were. When I asked, finally, to have
a look at some of the drawings, he took me over the building
and I was shown a great volume of working drawings
of work that had actually been done, and work that was projected for
the second stage and third stage. And I always think,
as probably most architects do, that one is generally competent, and one knows when you look
at a set of working drawings, you would generally understand
what it's all about. I can only remember the sort of
feeling of genuinely being humbled at looking at this
unbelievable complexity. And the audacity, almost, with which the man can deal with
forms and shapes and translate them
into technical terms. It defies description. Australian people don't want this, they're not interested
in the Opera House. They don't really think about it,
I don't think. RADIO ANNOUNCER:
It's 29 and a quarter minutes to 12, and this was brought to you with the best wishes
of Philip Morris Australia Ltd. They're the makers of Marlboro.

The time when it really truly
became controversial, there was no outstanding architect
particularly to take a stand on it. Harry Seidler came close to
being a person in this situation, but, really, he wasn't able to because in a sense,
he's regarded as a reactionary and a revolutionary in Australia
anyway. So we were left without
any person as a professional, as an architect
who would be listened to.

NARRATOR: But the Minister
had no way of bringing to bear the direct pressure
he felt was needed if Utzon was to be
made to see reason, because Utzon was
still being paid regularly by the politically independent
Opera House Committee and so could afford
to sit out the stalemate. It was an improbable situation that
the Minister was quick to rectify. Surrounded, Utzon
desperately fought back. He could only threaten to resign now. Foolishly, he thought this would
panic Hughes into seeing reason, but Hughes wasn't at all
distressed by the prospect. Everyone waited.

So, here was Utzon with
nine years gone from his life on the shell of possibly one of
the world's great masterworks. Unable to finish it in the only way that he could build the masterwork
that it was, ranged now not only against press,
government and public outcry but against his own engineers, and in a country that with
all the goodwill in the world just couldn't see the things he saw
or seek the things he sought. Believing that his own
personal Sistine Chapel was being disembowelled
by the bureaucratic process, and he himself was being
crucified by his friends, he challenged the government
to pay him by a certain date or he'd resign. Utzon may be a very great architect, but he's not particularly adept at political and administrative
manoeuvring. And in the situation
in which he found himself, with a project of this size
and in this environment, his lack of skill and
what we might call bureau-karate tended to be disastrous.

But surprisingly, in a country
where apathy is a watchword, the question did arise. 1,000 people marched
on Parliament House, the lot of them fearing the
Opera House would turn into one of the great
Australian anticlimaxes, like Gallipoli or the messed-up
capital city of Canberra. Angrily, they compared the
Minister's suggested committee to finish off the Opera House with a
committee to finish off a Rembrandt. Many felt that Australia's
anti-intellectual values had found their perfect expression
in their politicians. The rural practicality of Mr Hughes,
they called 'ignorant provincialism', and a great literature of
vituperation was mounted against him. You've got a building not only
for the next five years, but for the next 100 years
or the next 200 years. And this is the sort of building
that the Opera House was, but it has now been destroyed
just for cheap political stunt.

Hughes was persuaded to negotiate. But even while he did, Hughes
made it quite clear, and publicly, that with Utzon as architect, the
building would never be finished. Utzon's last hopes now were that the Institute of Architects
boycott the building in protest. Some wanted to,
but the majority didn't. Or that Ove Arup would resign
from the job in his support. But Arup wasn't prepared any more
to put his neck nobly in the noose for the man who'd accused his
engineers of plotting against him, and suspected Arup himself. And thought he knew
it was his support alone that made the government
look respectable, and though he realised that the
infuriating Utzon was indispensable if the building was to be
the masterwork he himself had already sacrificed
so much for, Arup couldn't do it. He decided with some pain
not to resign.

But I couldn't see that that
would have made any difference. Utzon had resigned. I mean, he had resigned without
telling us anything about it or without consulting us. He even refused to see me,
so, I mean, I couldn't do anything about that. And if it had made
the government bring Utzon back, people would have said
that we wouldn't work with Utzon. I mean, you can't work with somebody who thinks that you are
working against the thing.

I don't know. Yes, it is a conflict because it would be so much... ..much nicer to resign. I would much have preferred it.

It's a very muddy thing,
muddled thing or complicated thing where all sorts of....
(Speaks indistinctly) I have been trying because this has
been such a deep question for me. I mean, I have been trying to
search my own soul, so to speak. For this is what we're doing
if we're not resigning. Is it... (Speaks indistinctly) Is it not getting into trouble, not getting into fights, not fighting with government
or things like that? But I don't really think it is. I don't think we ought to resign.

And that's the result I've come to.

I don't know.

NARRATOR: Albert Einstein said
in 1950, 'Perfection of means
and uncertainty of ends seem to be characteristic
of this age.'

Just now, a lady said, 'Let's hope
the pigeons don't make a home here.' It's perhaps thought
that Utzon had the idea that the sun's reflections off the
tiles would keep the pigeons away. We're not certain, but perhaps
that's why he chose the tiles in the off-white colour.

The shell was completed
two years after Utzon left. Two years for the Minister
to prepare his plans. I think it's fair to say that we're aiming at
maintaining the spirit of it. We want this to be a wonderful piece
of architecture, which I think it is, so far as the externals
are concerned. We want it to be something
that not only Australia but the whole world can be proud of. But I am concerned about the number
of people that can be fitted inside, particularly in
the major auditorium. But this is one of the problems that the new panel
will face up to, and one I'm sure that they'll
be able to meet very adequately. With Utzon gone,
one sort of logic had triumphed. There wasn't enough room between
the seats for Australian taste, so logically Hughes thought
the Opera House's crucial problem was one of accommodation,
whereas with a different logic, Utzon would have thought it was
one of shaping people's vision. One big thing is the important thing
in this house. It's the meeting
between actor and audience. That means the stage opening
and the auditorium or the concert hall podium
and the concert hall. These parts of the building
are the main parts. They are as important to this
building as the altar in a church. And everything we can do
to get other spaces to guide you to
these important parts in a festive and stimulating way
is done. And I think we are getting
more and more a building with
a great personality in itself, a building you can't see
anywhere else, because we have learnt so much
from new buildings. But at the same time this is
so different from new buildings. So you get something which
is up-to-date, but personal. Personal for Sydney. The design eliminates large areas
where seats could be placed, which would have a very good view
of the actual stage itself. And without committing ourselves
on a complete change of design, the architects are obviously
going to look at a change of design which will enlarge the amphitheatre to provide both more seats
both here and in the gallery. In order to make room
for Australia's knees, instead of having less seats which would have made
orchestral concerts uneconomical, the architectural panel
decided to eliminate the stage. As there would be no room after that
for anything but orchestral concerts, they advised the government to make
it a single-purpose concert hall. Opera and Ballet would go to
the smaller drama theatre next door, drama to the experimental theatre, the experimental theatre
to the rehearsal room and the rehearsal room
to the great gulf left by the tonnes of stage machinery
which now wouldn't be needed. The Australian Broadcasting
Commission supported the plan because the hall would now fit the specific requirements
of their orchestra. But the Elizabethan Theatre Trust
opposed it because they thought that
what was seen was more important
than how many saw it. The argument was extremely complex, but Hughes decided
that he would decide. Following from the decision
that's been made, we will have the concert hall, which will be equal to
anything in the world. We will have the opera hall
for 1,500 people, a beautiful intimate theatre which I believe will meet
the audience needs of Sydney for opera and ballet
for a very considerable period. It does have some stage limitations. You've got 12 feet of wing space. And although I'm being a little bit
facetious, it's true, I think they're going to have
safety nets to catch people. Because if you have a ballerina
coming off at a fair clip and she's got about four feet to go
and she gets past the sight lines, she's going to have to do
something drastic to pull up. Because of these changes, we've got a theatre complex of 6,500
as opposed to 4,000. Now, surely this is not
limiting the scope for the theatrical life of Sydney. What's happened is that
the Minister of Public Works -

he's a very nice fellow, but he is
the Minister of Public Works - has decided in his infinite wisdom that orchestral concert attendances are the thing that are going
to remain constant in the serious music theatre
for the next 50 or 80 years.

He's chosen to ignore the fact that
those audiences for those concerts all over the world
are in fact diminishing.

The visual things, they seem to have
just completely wiped. It's a staggering, staggering
decision to have made, and very ill-informed. I really don't believe that the
information was collected properly from anywhere. Quite strange. I remember the Minister
saying to me, 'Oh, yes. But I've seen Swan Lake
in somewhere or another. And it's the same here.' But he saw it somewhere in
a small theatre with 18 swans. What about Swan Lake with 32 swans? # That is mine to mark the... # (Sings indistinctly) # All the passion... # (Sings indistinctly) # And then the joy of conquest
overwhelms me... # Perhaps nobody wants to see Aida
anyway, but you could do Aida. You'd probably have
to use baby outfits. And dwarfs. But you can do anything anywhere. That's not what it's about. It's to give them grand opera,
grand ballet, grand spectacle. So, what we're saying, is that we'll retain the same
mediocre standards of presentation, because the audiences in Australia
haven't seen it as it should be, and so they won't miss it. That's not true anymore because people are travelling
a little bit more, and they know whether something
is as good here as somewhere else. And I just don't think
what our exercise is about, to spend $60-$80 million to do
what's been acceptable artistically for the last 50 years in Australia. We should be doing the very best!

I regard it as my task
to get the whole project going to a specific program. To a timed program,
so that we will be able to have this wonderful art centre
functioning towards the end of 1971. We've got a very experienced
panel of architects who have done some
tremendously fine work in Sydney. Peter Hall, designing architect
on the committee, the minister appointed
to replace Utzon. I suppose he has very strong
design ideas and intent. And, in a way, all architects who
are interested in how things look are unreasonable people
and selfish people. And I'm one of those, so my own buildings are
very different from this. But they're also not as developed because I'm a little younger
than Utzon. I couldn't deny that there
is an architectural loss in not having him finish
this building completely, as he would want to. Arup's Australian partner,
Mick Lewis, who doubted Utzon's practicality
and indispensability, was now very much in charge
of engineering. You've simply got to
make the thing work now. And that has got to
take priority over what might be a requirement
for visual unity. One of the things
that's been said about Utzon is that he's a perfectionist, and it's been said as if
that's something detrimental. Well, I couldn't say
it was detrimental because, in a way,
I'm a perfectionist myself. But a lot less developed in
how I think, perhaps, than Utzon. The next step in that exercise, which is, in a way,
a more difficult one to put up with, is facing the facts of life, which we are now facing
in stage three. But always you come back
to this thing that, well, it's not your building. And you can't be the sort of... Well, maybe in a way,
arrogant, unpleasant person an architect often is
about a building, and about how it's made and about the demands
he makes of the builder and of the materials he uses. The realities, the difficulties
which have been glossed over in order to meet the perfection
in quality of finish and in sculptural form have resulted in
functional problems, which now we as engineers
have to face because the original requirements
that were set for the job are no longer applicable. And then of course
there's the architectural question of taking the stage tower
out of the A2 shell. I couldn't possibly argue that
that is not an artistic loss, that, in a way, the unity of
the architecture suffers from that. The taking out of
the stage tower, the one architectural justification
for the shape of the building itself, shows perhaps the limits
of the pragmatic approach. Utzon had stretched the definition of
architectural function in any case. But when the stage tower went, it became just a building
with a funny roof. It was originally
a dual-purpose hall in which live theatre, which includes opera
and symphony concerts, were to be performed. When Utzon left, however, the new firm of architects
discovered difficulties which eventually impelled them to
actually change the use of the hall. We had stage towers here, very much bigger than the
stage towers in the other hall. As a matter of fact, they went
up to 154 feet above the floor. And we've taken them down because you don't need
any stage towers when you have symphony
and choral concerts.

Here at the space behind, where they're putting
some wall work in, was the actual stage. And the $3 million worth
of stage machinery went to it's appointed suburban
scrap heap. Perhaps in the next life, it will come back as something
more practical. Ove Arup said before
he decided not to resign, 'To destroy what may be a work
of genius is a serious business, and the verdict of history
will not be kind to those who could be named for it.' I myself think that... You see, when we first came
in contact with this scheme, and came in contact with Utzon and his whole sort of... ..his powerful influence in the way of inspiring people
and so on, we certainly thought
it was worth it. And everybody who came into
contact with him thought that. Because the idea was to
create something marvellous, something better than anything else,
so to speak. A masterpiece in every respect. It's more than just a building. But it's not sort of
completely perfect anymore.

We've got interior decorators
working on the actual design. There'll be 7,000 square yards
of carpet, 4,000 square yards of furnishings. And the design of these things
are equally important with all the other factors. We believe in it, we know that it has created
tremendous interest, and very properly, great interest
throughout the world. And we want to do nothing which
will detract from the sighting and the fine architectural
conception of the original design. And so, from my point of view,
the argument about the past is over. We want to achieve
a building of world standards, I believe we will, and I think that
when we open this complex finally, that people will say
that the Sydney Opera House is the building of the century. # MARCHING BAND TUNE

They have a great mental apathy
towards anything that's important. But what is important about it? It's too much to think about.
To them, rugby league, drinking. But what is important
about the Opera House? Of course it's important.
In what way? Well, it's a great
tourist attraction, for a start. And they need something like that. What have they got?
They've got that now! What have they got here? Really? This is Australia. Why should we
change just because it's not right? And we don't want to think about it because it just happens around us
and that's it. We've got a beautiful country and we've got all we need in it
just by being here. We don't need it!
We don't want culture. You don't what?
We don't need things like that. Of course you do. You've got
a big chip on your shoulder. You want it madly. We don't need it.
Of course you need it! You've got to have something,
something great! And the Opera House would be that. But not for that amount of money!

NARRATOR: And now after it all, as the building proceeds
apace of whatever it is, whatever cenotaph of whatever hopes, whatever great utopian prank
that laughs over the water. And Utzon lurks overseas and
threatens like King Arthur to return. And Hughes sits at home and says he can't think of any
possible circumstances in which Mr Utzon might be needed. And private people spend
hundreds of their own dollars sending indignant wires to whatever
international body seems appropriate. And the Labor Party
that might have Utzon back sits sulkily in opposition
and loses elections. It might be wondered, looking at it, whether a people's monuments
accurately reflect their natures. Whether this sheary mess,
this hollow gesture, this smiling shrug
at the ideal it's betrayed is a mirror of its makers, likely now because of
its brilliant outside to bring them universal calumny. And it might be wondered too whether such things
never come to pass because they require the cooperation
of fallible men, and the leadership of inspired men who can only finally repel
because of their obsession. But it stands, a frosty, glad symbol
of whatever you like, destroyed by cussedness,
betrayed by cowardice, brought to this quietus
by the politics that giveth and the politics that taketh away. Hallelujah, we guess. Hosanna to whatever's possible
in the best of all possible climates. She'll do, mate. Or will she?

# Now the harbour light is calling # This will be # Our last goodbye # Thought the carnival is over # I will love you till I die # Thought the carnival is over # I will love you till I die. # WOMAN: I hope I live
to see it finished. WOMAN 2: Oh, I'm sure I won't. WOMAN: Even if
I don't ever come to it. WOMAN 2: (Chuckles) I won't be here. You never know, my dear.
Oh! Was gonna say, if they've got
a place for wheelchairs to go up. We might both be in our wheelchairs. MAN: But you must say,
he was a clever man, that Upton. MAN 2: Oopton or
whatever they call him. MAN 3: Utzon.
Yeah, he was very clever. He must've been to start that all. Caption by CSI Australia -
Sam Shilson-Josling