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A very big thank you goes out to Nick from ACMI for providing me with a way to view the film from abroad (as an exception for this site) and for Jocelyn Moorhouse to give ACMI the green light to do so.

Without your efforts, I wouldn't have been able to view this film or make this section of the site into what it is.

Thank you!


Welcome to the film's section on Bartonsontheweb.nl. This is the first page. You can use the "More about the short film" box found near the bottom of every film related page to easily jump between the film's pages.

For all other contents on Bartonsontheweb.nl, please use the main menu.


Jocelyn Moorhouse made The Siege of Barton's Bathroom in 1986 after finishing her education as film maker at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS). It was her third film and fourth production overall (after the films Pavane and Scratch and the video production The Moat) and the first one she made after graduating.

The Australian Film Commission, a funding body for film, was asking for submissions for short films for children. Jocelyn sent in the script, and she received a grant to film it.

The script to the television series episode of (almost) the same name is "pretty much the same"12 as that of the film, and the ACMI's synopsis does indeed read like that of the television series first episode:

Elly Barton lives in a barren suburban housing estate where there is only one tree left standing. Now the neighbours want to cut it down, but what no-one seems to understand is that it is Elly's tree - and she is not going to let anybody touch it.
The Siege of Barton's Bathroom synopsis by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Elly Barton lives in a barren suburban housing estate where there is only one tree left standing. Now the neighbours want to cut it down, but what no-one seems to understand is that it is Elly's tree - and she is not going to let anybody touch it.
The Siege of Barton's Bathroom synopsis by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image

The story focusses on Elly Barton, the only girl in a family of boys, who uses said tree as an escape from her brothers. Unbeknown to her parents, Elly also uses the tree to spy on their neighbour; Mr Laurie Jensen. She finds him intriguing and a bit scary.

Mr Jensen, however, is very aware that Elly spies on him from the tree. In addition to that, the leaves that the tree drops in his yard annoy him. So he convinces Elly's dad to cut down the tree; a task that he's very willing to help with. Of course not by telling the truth. No, instead, Mr Jensen claims to be a plant- and tree expert and deems the tree a danger. According to Mr Jensen, and blindly echoed by her dad, it could fall over any time now, and with Elly in it.

Before the film starts, Elly is told of the impending doom that her tree faces. After waking up on the Saturday that the tree is to be cut down, she strolls to the bathroom. Making sure to wake no one else, she locks herself in it and has a bath. A very long bath.

About an hour later, her family finds itself locked out of the bathroom. A bathroom that happens to have the only toilet in the house in it.

As her family tries to get Elly out, first by threat of punishment, then by reasoning with her, not giving her lunch and finally to make sure she has no more hot water to heat the bathtub, Mr Jensen is determined to have the tree out by the end of the day.

But Elly has an ally in the form of her younger brother. Not only does he bring her a biscuit so she won't starve, but he also makes their dad remember how much fun climbing trees is when you're a kid.

In the end, Elly wins. But not before she has to threaten to smash everybody's belongings left in the bathroom. By doing so, she causes Mr Jensen to lose his temper and show his true nature and intentions to her father.

Dad reconsiders, sends Mr Jensen home and the tree stands.

And Elly? She's way too cold to be punished.

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Rebekah Elmaloglou as Terese Willis in a 2019 episode of "Neighbours"

Source: Wikipedia
under WP:NCFI disclosure
and "citaatrecht"

The production
The story for the film was written by Jocelyn over the course of one weekend.

In an interview with Melbourne Woman magazine in 1988 (which focusses on the production of the Bartons television series) she commented that she had been living with the Bartons for four years before the series came to be.

After filming, but before mixing could be done, funds ran out. Production was halted and the film lay on a shelve for months. Only after she and PJ Hogan saved enough money with their jobs, could the production be finished. The music was written and added (see Music below) and the film was printed. Jocelyn also had a few VHS copies made to send out to various film festivals. 13


I've been living with the Bartons for over four years now, and I've come to love them, and the finished product. It captures the exact feeling I was after. The premise I based the series on was that children rely a lot on their imagination and events naturally spark from this.
Jocelyn Moorhouse in Melbourne Woman, 28 February 1988 issue, p.5

The medium
The film is officially produced by Jocelyn's company Bathroom Productions, although that name does not appear on the end credits. It does, however, appear on ACMI's page about the film and in several other online resources.

The short is three seconds short of being seventeen minutes long and was shot on 16mm colour film, in 4:3 aspect (the older television screen ratio, so not in wide screen).

ACMI has a print of the 16mm film in its collection, logged as item 323864 (link) and restored and digitised for viewing in the museum (see Where to watch?). The NFSA also has a copy in their collection under item 579359 (link), but that's only viewable on request and rather expensive. The Where to watch? page linked above has information about this option too.

Interestingly, the NFSA also has an audio-only copy of the film in its collection, digitised into a high resolution WAV under item 579359-6 (link) and as an MP3 file, under item 579359-12 (link).

I don't know if any VHS copies survived.

Restored version
Although restored and digitised, some marks (like scratches) present on the film are visible in ACMI's digital file. The audio and dialogue are both clear although it's apparent that you're listening to an older analogue recording; there are some hisses and ticks here and there.

The restoration did correct colouring (so what should be white now does look white; whites in films tend to turn yellow as film ages). The scan is crisp and clear and other than the audio and the marks on the film showing their age, you could be fooled into thinking it was filmed yesterday.

Music
Jocelyn asked her friend John McAll to write the film's music.13 It's quite different to the television series' soundtrack, but I like it a lot. Both styles (the film's and the series') fit the scenes well.

While Royce Craven and Bryan Patterson went for a more 80's synth soundtrack, John McAll went for a more classic children's film sound. With real instruments (either that, or he had one very expensive synthesizer for 1986) and a much calmer arrangement with one major recurring theme.

Showings
Jocelyn sent in VHS copies of the film to various film festivals. Eventually the film only got shown at the Melbourne Children's Film Festival, run by her friend Mary Sdraulig, in 1986.13

All the other festivals returned the tapes that Jocelyn had sent them. Luckily, that meant that she now had enough VHS copies of the film to send one to the ABC. Although the ABC initially lost her tape, and she almost gave up hope, eventually ABC's Noel Price phoned her and asked her to make a series out of it.

Read more about that, and what happened next, here.
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Brendan Cowell at the "Save Your Legs" movie premiere in Sydney, Australia in 2013. Brendan appeared in the film when he was about 10 years old. In which role you ask? Well, read on…

Photographer: Eva Rinaldi
License: CC BY-SA 2.0
and "citaatrecht"

Differences?
There are a few differences that are only noticeable when you watch the episode and the film side by side (or if you, like me, are a Bartons nut and have the episode pretty much memorised) a few bigger ones and one really big one.

One small difference that is immediately noticeable to someone like me, is the small difference in the title.

The short film is titled The Siege of Barton's Bathroom
The episode's title is The Siege of Bartons' Bathroom

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Left photo: Title card from the film
Right photo: Title card from the episode

Running stretch
The film is only about 17 minutes long (including the end credits) while the episode runs for 25 minutes. So the episode has eight additional minutes of runtime to fill. Because of this, some scenes in the episode are stretched out a bit more, making the film seem more fast paced in return.

For instance, it takes Olivia's Elly about five times longer to walk from her bedroom to the bathroom and turn on the tap than Rebekah's Elly.

  • Rebekah's Elly tiptoes to the bathroom in a seemingly straight line and locks the door, then looks out the window for a second or three before she turns on the tap.
  • Olivia's Elly stops and looks into her brother's bedrooms on the way and the shot where she looks out the bathroom window at the tree is stretched out much longer, switching between Elly's face and the tree multiple times. Only then does she turn on the tap.

Elly's dialogue through the bathroom door when eating the cookie is much shorter in the film, leaving out quite a few lines that are in the episode.

All in all this is a recurring theme: the scenes are there, the dialogue is there, but the series has more lines added in and more shots to make up the scene.

Anger issues
There is a noticeable difference in delivery between Olivia's and Rebekah's lines: Olivia's Elly is a lot angrier at her parents at the beginning of the story than Rebekah's Elly is. Not that Rebekah's Elly is cheerful, don't get me wrong, but it's only when her brothers start to tease her that Elly's anger really starts to show. Before that she comes across as steadfast and determined to save her tree, but not particularly angry.

Notable is the way Elly reacts to Anthony's (Tony's in the film) suggestion of him taking a shower while she's in the bath. Film Elly responds with a determined and defensive "No.", while TV Elly almost breaks the glass in the window with her high pitched "NO!".

Max Phipps delivers a different Mr Jensen than we're used to. Scary, yes, as Max seems to excel at being, but different scary to Robert Essex' performance; Max makes a more maniacal Mr Jensen to Robert's more sinister and plotting Mr Jensen.

The delivery of the lines on what to do with the tree stump are good examples of this: Robert's Jensen is absently dreaming of what he'd do with the stump if it was up to him, while Max's Jensen just wants to get it over with and start cutting the tree down, and gets impatient with everybody there.

  • Robert's Jensen: "…then we rip out the stump, [pause] and…perhaps burn that section…then you can [pondering]. either fill in the hole that remains [pondering]or perhaps to install a cement pond [pause] some people do that [pondering]. If I had a hole [pondering] I'd do that…"
  • Max' Jensen: "…and then: we RRRRIPPP out the stump, (and-you-probably-burn-that-bit-of-it [hastily]), then you fill in the hole in the ground or perhaps… put in a cement pond. Some people do that!"

The delivery of the word "Neat" is also a good example of the different deliveries between the two actors. Max' delivery quickly corrects Douglas' statement of everything becoming "flat", with an undertone of "now shut up, and let's turn this tree into bits", while Robert's really throws the word out as to convey his opinion as the only truth.

Other differences in delivery are mostly timing and choice of wording; nothing major.

Zooooom!
The shots are mostly the same too. Of course the film was shot at a different location (not at 5 Copnal Court), and the tree is very different (a straight, very tall eucalyptus tree). The bathroom is a lot smaller and the kitchen looks completely different to the one in the series, but in general the shots are very similar between the film and the episode.

But there is one shot in the film that stands out: when Mr Jensen rings the doorbel, the camera zooms in dramatically on mum, who is startled by his arrival and quickly makes sure her hair looks nice. Why does she do that? She doesn't in the episode…. does Film Mum have a crush on Mr Jensen? Oooh…. speculation…!

This idea is strengthened by the fact she tells Mr Jensen and Robert "Off you go boys… uhhh… I mean MEN" while half giggling as they head off to the tree with the chainsaw and the climbing gear. Oh dear, Mrs. Barton… oh dear!

Click X to close?
One funny difference is one of necessity: after throwing the toilet paper at her brothers, Elly hangs out of the bathroom window. Then Robert walks into the yard and starts shouting at her. In the film, he merely gets a few words out before Elly slides the window shut with a bang. But TV Elly has to "wind" her window shut, which takes a while. So Robert gets a whole second sentence out before she's gone.

So all in all, film and episode are similar, but slightly different.


…but I haven't mentioned the big difference yet…

Elly in the Middle
Unlike in the television series, Film Elly has a fourth brother: Dominic Barton. That's right: the film has 14.3% more Bartons in it!

He's portrayed by Brendan Cowell, who you may know from Game of Thrones.

So, in the film, the Barton family consists of Mum, Dad and (ordered by age, from old to young) their kids Tony, Paul, Elly, Dominic and Douglas.

Film Elly is about twelve years old*, Dominic Barton is about ten* while Film Douglas is about five. Dominic basically takes the place that Douglas has in the series' first episode. That includes much of TV Douglas' dialogue all around, especially in the scene where he brings Elly a cookie.
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Short, Sun, Soap
Max Phipps, Scott Bartle and Rebekah Elmaloglou all appeared in the Australian soap opera E Street in the late 1980's.

Scott Bartle and Rebekah Elmaloglou teamed up again as relatives in the
Touch the Sun film Princess Kate (1988).
Film Douglas, meanwhile, plays a much smaller part than we're used to from the television series.

He has a broken arm (he wears a cast around his left arm) and is much younger than TV Douglas is (TV Douglas is seven). Of course the real age difference is even bigger, as Ben Toovey (TV Douglas) was nine years old at the time of filming the series, while Scott Bartle (Film Douglas) really was five when the film was shot.

Douglas only appears in a few scenes in the film and doesn't speak in most of them.

The lines that he does have are:
  • In the scene outside the bathroom door early in the story (the hilarious "I gotta have a p*ss!");
  • When mum orders everyone to gather dirty laundry and tells Douglas to stack the dishes ("Mum I can't! I have a broken arm!") **;
  • At the very end underneath the tree with Mr Jensen ("Everything will be flat!").
All lines are memorable as ever. He does end up doing the dishes though; five years old or not, broken arm or not. Don't mess with Mrs. Barton!

Paul is the same character as in the episode with the same lines of dialogue. The Anthony character is simply known as Tony in the film. He's still a bit of a jock and has the same dialogue, but unlike TV Anthony, his voice has not yet dropped.

Paul and Tony also appear to be slightly younger than their television counterparts, and maybe closer in age, but I could be mistaken.

So Elly really is the middle child in the film, as she has two younger brothers and two older brothers.

* Judging by the actors' age during the time of filming
** Anthony gets told to stack the dishes in the episode

The Mother Situation
Frankie J. Holden is credited as Frank Holden. His character's name is simply "Father" according to the end credits, but he is called "Robert" by both his wife and Mr Jensen in the film.

But we have no idea what Mrs. Barton's first name is. Claire Crowther's character is named "Mother" on the end credits and she's not called by her name at any point in the film either.

We know, from the series production documents, that Mrs. Barton's first name was going to be Marjorie before they changed it to Clare later into the pre-production. I don't think this goes for Film Mum though; here, she's just "Mother".


The Cast
Seven Bartons and one Jensen make up the cast of the film. Frankie J. Holden is the only actor who would reprise his role in the television series and the character is indeed identical in both.

This is what the cast looks like:

Elly Barton
Rebekah Elmaloglou

Dominic Barton
Brendan Cowell

Max Phipps
Mr (Laurie) Jensen

"Father" (Robert Barton)
Frankie J. Holden

"Mother"
Claire Crowther

Paul Barton
Cameron Scott

Tony Barton
Rhys Atkinson

Douglas Barton
Scott Bartle

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Type casted
Frankie J. Holden is the only actor who's both in the short film and the series. I guess he really is the perfect Robert Barton!

Stills
Thanks to ACMI, who digitised the film into their collection in 2021, a few stills are available to the public. You'll find them below.
The stills below are sourced from ACMI's website and are not in the public domain. ©1986 Bathroom Productions. Used under fair use/citaatrecht.

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Rebekah Elmaloglou as Elly Barton in The Siege of Barton's Bathroom, laying siege to the family's only bathroom as Ellys tend to do.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht

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Max Phipps as Mr Jensen (right) telling Elly (who's hanging out the bathroom window) he knows she's been spying on him from the tree.

Mr. Barton (Frankie J. Holden, left) is already doubting his neighbour's motives by the looks of it.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht

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The tree in question, towering over the Barton's Banksiawood home.

Note: this is not 5 Copnal Court by the way; the film was shot somewhere else. But the houses do look strikingly similar.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht

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Brendan Cowell as Dominic Barton asking his father about climbing trees.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht


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Frankie J. Holden (Mr Barton) trying to convince Elly to come out of the bathroom.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht

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Crossed Kelly
Jocelyn and Frankie J. Holden already knew each other from Kelly's Crossing; a series that never aired. Jocelyn wrote the "series bible" and Frankie was cast in the pilot episode (the only episode filmed).13





 

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