A Great Anti-War Film

Mark Lee in the 1981 Peter Weir film Gallipoli.

Gallipoli was one of the first which established the Australians as film makers to be reckoned with. When first released it was a sensation in Australia and New Zealand and is shown each year on ANZAC Day, a time or remembrance for those who died in the battle.

I would note here that if you have seen the movie, the order to the ANZAC forces to attack into withering machine fire given in the movie by a British general who is a haughty, upper-class snob who is condescending to the Australian troops, was, in reality, given by an Australian general.

In The Australian of 21 April 2012, film critic Evan Williams writes:

The film’s climax was the Battle of the Nek, fought four months later, in August 1915, nearby on the Gallipoli peninsula. The result, in any case, was a masterpiece, one of the great anti-war films, and a key work in the revival of the Australian film industry.

Archy (Mark Lee) and Frank (Mel Gibson) are best mates, caught up in the wave of patriotic fervour that swept Australia during World War I. With a screenplay by David Williamson (widely criticised for its anti-British sentiment), Weir uses the first part of the film to establish the optimism of his young lives before demonstrating how quickly and pointlessly such lives can be snuffed out. The sequence that haunts me is the arrival of the landing craft in the early dawn darkness, lights bobbing on the water like part of some ghostly funfair. The cinematography was by Russell Boyd…

DVD cover of Gallipoli.

While Mark Lee was on the original movie poster, a now famous Mel Gibson in a suggestive photo replaced him for the DVD cover. According to the International Movie Database:

At the time of filming, Peter Weir felt that his young star, Mel Gibson, was ‘full of beans and really with no grand career ambitions’.

[Source: The Australian. Images courtesy of The Australian and Amazon.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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