There are so many positive facets to this film it's difficult to know where to begin. The historical basis of this film, if modified for screen presentation, is incontestable. The Breaker was an Englishman who emigrated to Australia. He was a known, if not celebrated, poet as well as a horse breaker. Like Peter Handcock, Harry Morant went into the army as much for a square meal as for any patriotic motives. The Boer War was distant and dubious for any meaningful values.
Edward Woodward, sheathed in a corset for this film, is a dubious figure as a horse breaker, but displays a superb vehemence in his desire for vengeance for the mutilation of his friend. He recites The Breaker's poetry with sincere feeling and his final lines were delivered with the strength Morant displayed throughout his life. Morant's throwaway line to George Witton as the latter's being led off to prison that the trio were 'scapegoats of empire' became the title of Witton's account of the episode. Bryan Brown's portrayal of Handcock is almost certainly speculative, but he carries off the attitude of a loyal subordinate with style. The Bushveldt Carbiniers were a novel organization [the British introduced the concentration camp in South Africa as well as this irregular cavalry force], and Brown conveys the insecurity this force must have felt in operating in hostile territory.
It is Jack Thompson who deserves the highest accolades for a performance in this movie. How this country solicitor really performed in the courtroom is immaterial [although Witton's book gives Thomas' full praise for his efforts to clear the officers]. Thompson renders superbly the role of a man striving for justice against a clearly stacked deck.
This film may be about the Boer War, but that's wholly immaterial - it's a universal issue. Massive organizational power rendered against hapless individuals covers all levels of life, from military to corporate. Breaker Morant offers a multitude of lessons for anyone questing for justice. The Breaker's fate was a setback in that quest, but his story, superbly told to a world more willing to investigate such incidents for truth. Please view this film, have a think, then buy it and pass it to a friend. Then do the same with GALLIPOLI. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]