Movie of the Week: Gallipoli (1981)

Peter Weir directs Mel Gibson, Mark Lee and Bill Kerr in this Australian war drama where two young lads who meet at a running contest sign up for The Great War only to find themselves in a wasteful desert assault.

A very beautiful film. One that captures outback way of life as well as it does the fish out of water tragedy as the boys arrive in North Africa. There’s a sense of adventure and camaraderie to even the darkest moments. Weir adds spirit and humour to all the running and diving whether it be trench warfare or larrikin athletics meets. He’s helped by some gorgeous location widescreen photography by Russel Boyd and anachronistic use of music. Jean Michel-Jarre’s electronic Oxygen somehow adds to the mythical atmosphere. A young Mel Gibson puts in a fine bit of lead acting; laddishly restless in the early sequence, desperate by the end. The big inevitable finale is heart breaking. A masterpiece.


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