Polygoon newsreels were shown in Dutch theatres from the 1920’s onwards. Subjects of the daily life in the Netherlands supported with compelling visuals were central to its (nowadays) typical format. To keep the audience interested Polygoon had to renew itself throughout the years. The latest inventions on communication, technology and innovation served the newsreels well as interesting subjects. Further, attention was paid to the mass consumption of the Dutch people in the ‘age of automation’. Innovations and developments which offered new opportunities in solving problems concerning the increasing use of energy, often found their way to the Polygoon newsreels.
These new techniques and innovations were often announced with great optimism. Take for example the introduction of a new sort of an electricity factory, the atomic power station in Dodewaard, announced with quit some enthusiasm. As where nowadays nuclear energy generally appears in an unfavourable light, in a news item from 1966 no attention was paid to the possible dangers entailing nuclear energy. The emphasis lay on the new possibilities: the station would supply the people with all the conveniences they needed in a time of mass use of energy.
Not only new methods to meet the growing need for energy among the Dutch were searched for. The need for better communication techniques became relevant in an age of mass communication. More and more people found their way to Schiphol airport and air cargo traffic grew continually. These developments put much pressure on the air traffic controllers. With the introduction of the radar, the Dutch airspace could be mapped in great detail so that the air traffic controllers had a better overview of air traffic approaching and leaving the Dutch air space. A Polygoon newsreel from 1951 shows how an air traffic controller from Schiphol ‘talks an airplane down’ with the assistance of a at that time new radar technique.
Attention was also paid to remarkable ‘close to home’ innovations which would make life much easier. As early as in 1963 Polygoon made a news item on the precursor of the contemporary late-night shops: the automatic store in Boxtel.
The ever more industrializing Netherlands provided its inhabitants not only with more energy, but also with new consumer goods. Many of these products came onto the market thanks to new technological innovations. New techniques were often shown in the Polygoon newsreels, and in retrospect can now give an indication on how fast new technologies follow each other up. For example, in 1978 a precursor of the contemporary DVD, the videodisc, was shown in a Polygoon news item. As was often the case with Polygoon news items, this particular item had a highly educative character, but with a comic flavour. In the item is demonstrated how with videodisc equipment connected to a regular television, among other things, images can be winded back in slow motion. Thanks to this new technique the bottom of a model walking on the catwalk can be seen again in slow motion. Putting the news in this ‘visual’ way, Polygoon continually captured the attention of its viewers.