Gallipoli [1981]

Gallipoli is well worth seeing for a number of good reasons. As a war movie, it ranks alongside the best of the genre: affecting without being sentimental, brutal without being gratuitous, and blessed with a credible, human screenplay by David Williamson. As an historical introduction to the disastrous Dardanelles campaign of 1915, it isn't bad--the odd liberties taken with the facts, while annoying (especially, one imagines, if you have ancestors among the 30,000 British troops buried on the peninsula) are just about forgivable. And as an explanation and distillation of the Gallipoli legend that looms so large in the Australian consciousness, it is unbeatable not least because the film itself did so much to fuel it. It is no coincidence that the numbers of Australians at the April 25th dawn service at Gallipoli have been increasing every year since the film was released in 1981. Mel Gibson and Mark Lee play two young sprinters who join in the army in search of adventure iconic representatives of the generation of young men that the newly federated Australia pitched into the slaughter of World War I. While Gallipoli does not shirk from the reality they discover, nor does it quite allow the characters' enthusiasm for the enterprise ever to diminish, all of which helps make the climactic scenes, based on the suicidal assault enacted of the Australian Light Horse at The Nek on August 7th, 1915, among the most moving in modern cinema.

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