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Gallipoli (1981)Australia 1981
Directed by Peter Weir
Running time 100 minutes
Peter Weir has a penchant for the grand themes of human existence and a tendency to present them with an overly obvious symbolic form. This film is not an exception but it is one of his least offensive in that respect as he explores the blooding of two young males (Mark Lee and Mel Gibson) as they progress from the back-blocks of Western Australia to the hills of Gallipoli, probably the most prominent of all symbols of Australian national identity.
David Williamson’s script no doubt provided a solid foundation but Weir realizes it with measured empathy, imbuing the young men's odyssey with dignity and not degenerating into flag-waving heroics. The war itself takes a backseat to the story of their friendship, a choice which irked critics at the time, who felt that more history should have been included. Although the interpersonal tends to get lost in the sweep of the narrative, for an Australian production of its time it is quite remarkable, handling the progression of locations with panache and looking convincing throughout, thanks to Russell Boyd’s fine cinematography.