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Australia 1981
Directed by
Peter Weir
100 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Gallipoli (1981)

Peter Weir has a penchant for the grand themes of human existence, an inclination well-demonstrated here. Gallipoli deals with an iconic event in the formation of the myth of the Australian character and "mateship" in particular as embodied symbolically in 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, where so many Australians met a senseless death.

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 and a stronger anti-war position taken.

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. It deservedly became one of the flagships of the burgeoning Australia film industry in the North American market with Weir, Gibson and Boyd all soon to embark on careers Stateside.




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