Gallipoli

Gallipoli (Peter Weir, 1981) prod. Patricia Lovell & Robert Stigwood for Associated A & R Films, wr. David Williamson, dp Russell Boyd, designer: Wendy Weir, ed. Bill Anderson; Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Hunter, Robert Grubb, Bill Kerr, David Argue, Harold Hopkins, Tim McKenzie; review by Brian McFarlane in Murray 1995: 74; see also his review in Cinema Papers, 33, July-August 1981: 322-329; Gallipoli scenes filmed at Port Lincoln, SA; many AFI awards; Eastman colour, 35mm, 105 min.

Peter Weir and his scriptwriter David Williamson have dramatised and examined ideas like mateship, competitiveness and sporting spirit, which are elements popularly associated with the national character. Beside these, Archy's mindless patriotism and Frank's pragmatism in response to Britain's war diminish in importance as their friendship is strengthened in exotic places and dangerous engagements. Perhaps it is at heart the male love story some have claimed it to be ... Brian McFarlane, Murray: 74.

... remains, for many, the Australian film. ... In the end, all the time and effort and money that went into Gallipoli was worth it. The characters of Archy and Frank ... who left their Western Australian home in a spirit of adventure and found camaraderie, fear and, in Archy's case, death in a foreign war, became Australian archetypes. The sweep of Weir's vision, the humour, the tension, the painstaking recreation of the Gallipoli beach and cliffs, all make for a film of astonishing power. Stratton: 22, 27.

Anzac Day, 25 April, in effect Australia's real national day, was proclaimed in order to commemorate the original Anzac Day, 25 April 1915, when Australian (and New Zealand, hence the 'NZ') troops suffered their most crushing defeat—during the Second World War, in Turkey (a German ally), at a place called Gelibolu—which we call 'Gallipoli'.  This Day and this event and this film each give rise to the most profound ambiguity.  One wants—well, I want—to be against (any) war, while at the same time recognising the courage and sacrifice of the original Anzacs.  And I think Peter Weir thinks the same.  I see the film as demonstrating the same ambiguity that I feel. Garry Gillard, Screen Education, 38, 2005: 129-131.


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