Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Australia, 1981. Australian Film Commission, R & R Films. Story by Peter Weir, Screenplay by David Williamson, based on the novel Tell England by Ernest Raymond. Cinematography by Russell Boyd. Produced by Patricia Lovell, Robert Stigwood. Music by Brian May. Production Design by Herbert Pinter. Costume Design by Terry Ryan. Film Editing by William M. Anderson. Golden Globe Awards 1981. National Board of Review Awards 1981.
Mel Gibson adorns all the cover art for this film’s video and DVD releases, but he’s actually second banana to Mark Lee in this excellent war film. They play sprinters whose athletic careers are stopped short when they are drafted into the first World War after Australia joins the effort. The two of them are sent to Turkey where they find themselves overwhelmed by their army’s inability to hold off the strength of the Turkish military, and their friendship is affected by it. Going off young and idealistic, their spirits are broken by the reality of war. Peter Weir has made a film that nearly reaches the level of Breaker Morant, a passionate and melancholy war story that tells of a very famous cultural event in Australian history (it’s been called the Aussie Alamo). The performances are superb, the sadness palpable.