Australasian Cinema > films > 40,000 Horsemen, 1940

Forty Thousand Horsemen

40,000 Horsemen (Charles Chauvel, 1940) aka Forty Thousand Horsemen, wr. Elsa Chauvel, dp George Heath, additional exterior photography Frank Hurley, Tasman Higgins; Grant Taylor, Betty Bryant, Chips Rafferty, Pat Twohill; Michael Pate's debut film - as an extra; WW1

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40000horsemen1I was disappointed in some of what we might now call its 'generic' aspects (I refer to the intrusive, silly, unbelievable romance). But the battle scenes, the guts of the film, are astonishingly good.

The nationalistic sentiment glorifying Australian manhood and the Anzacs' achievements in battle clearly hit the right note for 1941. The Film Weekly, 2 January 1941, voiced common feelings when it called the film 'a magnificent tribute' to the Australian soldier, and found stirring emotion in every detail - even 'Waltzing Matilda', as sung by the Light Horsemen, 'has never sounded so grand before'. ... The New York Times, 15 August 1941, regretted the 'foolish' romantic scenes, but applauded the rest as 'a brawling, boisterous entertainment' with 'the sweat and sound of battle in it. Those earlier Anzacs were men's men, all of them, and when they rode toward battle with a full-throated "Waltzing Mathilde" they were fearful folk - fearful and gay'. Pike & Cooper: 193.

References and Links

Carlsson, Susanne Chauvel 1989, Charles and Elsa Chauvel: Movie Pioneers, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia; Foreword by Ken G. Hall, Introduction by Michael Pate.

Pike, Andrew & Ross Cooper 1998, Australian Film 1900-1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, revised edition, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.


Garry Gillard | New: 25 October, 2012 | Now: 19 January, 2019