Gallipoli (1981)

Gallipoli (1981)
  • Time: 110 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Drama | History
  • Director: Peter Weir
  • Cast: Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr


World War I, 1915. Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee), a rising-star sprinter, sets aside his dreams to join the Australian Light Horse Division to fight in the war. He runs into fellow sprinter Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson), whom he convinces to join up with him. Unable to enter the Light Horse due to his inability to ride a horse, Frank is sent to Infantry, where he encounters some old buddies. Training commences, and Frank and Archy run into each other. With a special transfer to the Light Horse, Frank and Archy are sent to the Gallipoli Peninsula to fight the Turks. What they encounter shakes their beliefs about war. Can they survive the massacre?

One comment

  • Having just viewed ‘Gallipoli’ for around the 5th time, it stands up in the 21st century as a master stroke in story-telling. It has everything I require in a film – characters about whom I care, emotional depth and believability, structure, cinematography, a magnificent musical score, and of course, the genius direction of Peter Weir. Remarkably, the only scenes shot outside South Australia were those set in Cairo.

    Whilst a modern day viewer may marvel at how beautiful was Mel Gibson at 25, my attention was constantly with Mark Lee, who played the main character, 100 yards runner Archie Hamilton, who just wants to be included in the ‘fun’ of the war overseas. Watching this movie, it’s hard to see why Mark Lee’s career didn’t reach the heights of Gibson’s, as he’s better-looking, more charismatic on screen, and equally as good an actor as Mel (although, to be honest, I’m not a fan of Gibson’s work, and consider ‘Gallipoli’ to be one of his best performances.)

    The story is about two young West Australian men who sign up to go to war to fight in Turkey in 1915. It’s a tale of mateship, optimism, larrikanism, and loyalty. Flowing beneath the story of the two men is a powerful anti-war subtext, which is never quite in-your-face until the final (quite unforgettable) image of Mark Lee’s character going ‘over the top’. This is one of Peter weir’s skills – to deliver a theme without too much fanfare or hoo-ha.

    Mention must be made of the musical score choices – Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’, ‘In The Depths Of The Temple’ by Bizet, and Jean Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’. Criticism has been levelled at Weir for using an electronic composition from the 1970’s to create atmosphere in a story from 1915. For me, this music speaks to a modern audience, and is like the whole movie – perfect!

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