Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. New Zealand, 2015. General Film Corporation. Screenplay by Leanne Pooley, Tim Woodhouse, from an original idea by Matthew Metcalfe. Produced by Matthew Metcalfe. Music by David Long. Film Editing by Tim Woodhouse. Toronto International Film Festival 2015.
The devastation of Gallipoli has its hundredth anniversary marked by this dramatic, animated film by Leanne Pooley. She takes the memoirs, letters and interviews of six individuals involved in the terrible World War I battle and presents them as personalities on screen, their voices describing their experiences as beautifully drawn imagery recreates the scene. It is Turkey in 1915, and the British, using colonial troops for the most impossible battles, send thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers to their deaths trying to take the peninsula that will be a great victory against the German ally of Turkey and open passage up to the eastern world. The grungy living in the trenches, the comfort of kindly nurses, the heat and the constant fear and violence are all touched upon, always tinged by the hopelessness that results from the reckless tactics used in this god-forsaken situation. Even at the heights of the film’s poetic aestheticism, Pooley never lets the real struggle of the event feel trite or insignificant; it’s not up to the sharp perfection of Waltz With Bashir, but it does make you feel like you have witnessed a real experience.