SYNOPSIS: Two Aussie
buddies join the army in WWI. Archy
(Mark Lee) and Frank (Mel Gibson) are shipped to Egypt for the bonding with
comrades scenes and then it’s off to Turkey for the Gallipoli campaign. They and their mates are stuck in the
trenches facing the strong Turkish lines.
The movie builds to a suicidal charge across no man’s land.
BACK-STORY: “Gallipoli” is a war movie by Peter Weir (“Master and Commander”).
It was part of the wave of Australian classics of the 1980s that included
“Breaker Morant” and “The Lighthorsemen”. Weir was inspired by the story of the
ANZAC (Australian - New Zealand Army Corps) contribution to the British effort
in the Gallipoli campaign of WWI. Early on the project evolved from a study of
the entire campaign to a more personal study set in a brief period of the
campaign. It stars Mel Gibson (coming off of “Mad Max” and “Attack Force Z”)
and a debuting Mark Lee. It won the Australian equivalent of the
Academy Awards for Best Film, Director, Actor (Mel Gibson), Supporting Actor
(Bill Hunter), Screenplay, and Cinematography.
Mark Lee was nominated for Best Actor.
1. Peter Weir (the director) got the idea from a
visit to Gallipoli in 1976.
2. The movie was controversial for making the British
command the villain for the suicidal final attack. Weir later said he regretted
giving this impression, which was inaccurate.
Not only did the British not order the attack, it was actually a
diversion for a New Zealand attack, not a British attack.
to lack of male riders, 200 of the 400 horsemen were female.
4. At $2.8 million, the movie was the most
expensive Australian movie up until then.
5. The final image was based on a very famous
photo by Robert Capa of a soldier dying in the Spanish Civil War.
OPINION: “Gallipoli” is
well done and was influential on war movies of the eighties. It is fairly
accurate, but piles on the British to elicit nods from its core audience which
still resents Britain’s misuse of the ANZAC. The acting is okay, if a bit over the top.
Gibson is a young Mel Gibson, ‘nuff said. Lee is a little e bland, but so is
his character. It’s themes of the loss of innocence and the futility of war are
commendable. It is definitely anti-war. It is a buddy picture with some hints
of a bromance between Archy and Frank which I feel it’s safe to say escaped
Gibson’s notice when he read the script. I do think some critics have
overemphasized the homosexual angle. Although the unrealistic way the cynical
Frank runs off to a war because of his friendship with Archy gives ammunition
to their argument. Not a bad movie, but
not as good as "Breaker Morant" and not worthy of this high on the list.