Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.
Release Year: 1981
Rating: 7.6/10 (17,378 voted)
Critic's Score: 65/100
Stars: Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr
The story of a group of young Australian men who leave their various backgrounds behind and sign up to join the ANZACs in World War I. They are sent to Gallipoli, where they encounter the might of the Turkish army.
Writers: Peter Weir, David Williamson
Charles Lathalu Yunipingu
(as Charles Yunupingu)
Athletics Official 1
Athletics Official 2
From a place you never heard of…a story you'll never forget.
Release Date: 28 August 1981
Filming Locations: Adelaide Railway Station, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Box Office Details
Budget: AUD 2,600,000
Opening Weekend: $59,757
(30 August 1981)
Did You Know?
Carries the disclaimer: "Although based on events which took place on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915, the characters portrayed in this film are entirely fictitious."
When the young Australians ride the donkeys past the two British officers under the archway, in the first shot, looking behind the officers, there are three of them. In the next shot, looking to the front of the officers as they ride past, there are suddenly four on donkeys.
Deeper. Come on, deeper, deeper.
Funny and tragic
There are anti-war movies that work by rubbing your nose in the gore
and brainless waste of war, and then there are those that are more
subtle and cunning, and approach your sensibilities from behind.
Gallipoli, certainly one of the best Australian films of the modern
era, is one of the latter. It depicts war as a game right up until the
last 20 minutes; it derives comic dialogue from it, and in some scenes
openly ridicules the concept of soldiering. A platoon is swimming naked
in the ocean at Gallipoli, for example, and one man is hit by falling
shrapnel, causing resounding cheers – this not only means he will be
going home but he has also won a sizeable kitty. The movie is
effectively one of two overlapping halves: the first shows who the
Australians of 1915 were, how they thought, felt and behaved; the
second plonks them into the unnatural setting of a foreign war run by
the British, who are shown as both different and distant.
It is a long film, and it does move slowly, particularly when Weir is
establishing Archie and Frank's friendship. But as mentioned, the
strength of this movie is that it goes to lengths to describe
Australian attitudes of the time. Archie is keen to join up to escape
the boredom and isolation of the farm, but is naive and unenlightened
about why the war is being fought; when he meets a nomadic camel-driver
in the middle of the blistering desert and tells him that the Germans
must be stopped or they'll end up "here", the nomad looks around and
mutters "..and they're welcome to it." Frank, however, is more worldly
and realistic about war; it takes a longer chain of events to convince
him to join up, and even then he does so reluctantly.
These Australians then find themselves in Egypt, playing football
alongside the pyramids, frequenting brothels and clashing with both
local merchants and British officers. Cultural comparisons are made,
then they find themselves at Gallipoli, one of the biggest military
gambles of World War I and also one of its worst errors. From here
there is a biting sense of 'war as sport' from hereonin, as the
Australians engage in games with the Turkish, without taking it overly
seriously (or, at least, trying to avoid the appearance that they are).
With the push into Turkey in stalemate, the British – always shown as
the driving force – resort to charging the men from trenches into
elevated positions protected by machine-gunners. From this comes the
emotional, but hardly unexpected climax.
Gallipoli is Australia's All Quiet on the Western Front, but instead of
using personal conscience as its catalyst, it reverts to that oft-used
Australian concept of 'mateship'. War brings together mates, then it
callously separates them. You would struggle to find a movie that
better illustrates this cruelty.