Parer’s remarkable footage was used to spectacular effect in the creation of Kokoda Front Line! (1942), a special full-length edition of the Australian Cinesound Review newsreel which first screened in Australia on 18 September 1942. It was the first time that local audiences saw the gruelling conditions under which the campaign in the Pacific was being fought, in a war that had seemed until that point, 'a million miles away’.
A powerful example of wartime propaganda, Kokoda Front Line! (1942) became the first Australian film nominated for an Academy Award and Australia’s first ever Oscar. This was was awarded to Ken G Hall (1901–1994), chief director of Cinesound Review, at the 1942 Awards ceremony held in Hollywood on 4 March 1943. It is also believed to be the only newsreel to ever be awarded an Oscar.
More than a combat cameraman, Parer was utterly fearless and devoted to his job; no risk stood in the way of his doing it thoroughly. He placed himself ahead of the troops at Kokoda in his determination to present an emotionally true account of events as he saw them. Lugging his 35mm camera and film stock, he filmed from precarious locations, often spending days at a time perched in a tree in order to represent the narrowness and steep inclines of the track.
The nature of the mountainous countryside also meant it was almost impossible for Parer to shoot long sequences that didn’t include close-ups of the soldiers standing in the driving rain or trudging through ankle-thick mud along the track. As Parer himself explained, his New Guinea films are as a result much more personal, centred almost entirely on the boys themselves.