Gallipoli (1981)

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A small town Australian athlete decides to fight for King and country in the company of streetwise competitor Mel Gibson, but they inevitably find that war is not all glory and derring-do.

Directed by the often under-rated Peter Weir, Gallipoli is not your typical war film. The fact that the combatants are the pragmatic and down to earth Aussies who seem never to lose their sense of humour makes for a different spin in itself. The fact that the fateful battle is so absurdly – and tragically – short lived also means that much of the film is male bonding and fun and games set to some beautifully photographed backdrops, from the vast expanses of the outback to the pyramids of Egypt, through to the beaches of Turkey. How ill-prepared these boys were is summed up perfectly by the amusingly farcical “military exercise” they undertake, the humour counterpointing the horrifying waste of life that the real engagement entailed.

Not the film for those looking for gruelling and gritty scenes of warfare, this is more a snapshot of war from a very personal viewpoint made with real warmth and humanity.

7/10

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