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4.4 out of 5 stars105
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 7 December 2006
Uneven but powerful film about the First World War atrocity at Gallipoli where appalling incompetence by the generals lead to thousands of Australian soldiers being ordered above the trenches into direct Turkish gunfire. Gallipoli the film is also largely about the development of the unlikely friendship between country boy Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) and the more streetwise Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson). United as outstanding, competing, athletic prospects Archy leads the more questioning Frank into joining up after they undertake an unscheduled desert trek to Perth.

Like most of the other rookie volunteers, the geographically isolated Archy is incredibly naïve about the war, seeing it as little more than a foreign adventure. After clearly inadequate training in Egypt, the two friends and their comrades land amidst spectacular gunfire in Turkey and are soon disgracefully ordered forward with sudden catastrophic results.

Made by renowned Australian director Peter Weir, the pointless waste of these young lives packs a very powerful punch. Less impressive is the film's development towards this climax with Archy and Frank's burgeoning friendship being under-developed on-screen. Gallipoli's lack of cohesiveness is also not helped by it already feeling dated, not least due to its horrible early 80s music interludes. Still it's a very powerful indictment of a terrible episode of army incompetence and despite its flaws, is well worth seeing.
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****DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS****

"Gallipoli" made in 1981 is an Australian film directed by Peter Weir and starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, all natives of that country. The film is set during the First World War and the title refers to the peninsula of the same name located on the Aegean coast of The Dardenelles in Turkey. It was in this area that between the 25th April 1915 when it was captured, to the 19th December 1915 when it was evacuated, that many ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers fought and died. The climax to this film is at the brutal battle of "The Nek", which was a terrible killing field for the ANZACs.

The film concerns two young men from rural Western Australia who become close friends whilst competing against each other in a sprint at an athletics meeting. Mel Gibson, looking strangely youthful plays the cynical Frank Dunne whilst Mark Lee portrays the innocent and idealistic Archy Hamilton. Swayed by propaganda which was rife at the time they enlist to fight for their Countrys cause, although many recruits had never heard of the places involved in the conflict. Archy is considerably more enthusiastic about the idea than Frank.

They are then shipped out for training in Egypt where the soldiers indulge in a bit of good natured "Pommy bashing". Well it is an Australian film, so that is "Fair Dinkum". Thrashing us at cricket with monotonous regularity does not seem to appease their appetite for this genial sport! In all too short a time they are transported to the harsh realities of trench warfare in Gallipoli. Having trained with the Light Horse this bloody stalemate is not what they expected and they see the senseless slaughter first hand as their ranks are decimated. At the films ending we see the company go over the top into the face of the Turkish guns. Archie sprints ahead of the others using his great speed. He has no weapon and the camera freezes as he is struck by a hail of machine gun bullets. Frank who has been used as a runner just fails to get back in time with the order to stop the attack.

The film has many impressive scenes. I particularly liked the scene where Major Barton played by Bill Hunter plays his favourite opera piece the night before before the attack. The final scenes are particularly poignant. I was reminded of the scene from perhaps the greatest anti war film of all time "Paths of Glory"(57) where Kirk Douglas is about to lead his men over the top in a doomed attack. All so indescribably sad.

It is vital for us all to remember that 46,000 allied soldiers died and there were 265,000 casualties in the campaign, and it is very likely the Turkish losses were greater. This film is a fitting tribute to all those brave young men who gave their lives in the hell that was Gallipoli. Highly recommended viewing.
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on 20 February 2002
I found this film to be a masterpiece. Gibson and Lee both put in sound performances and conveyed their characters emotions well. With some light-heartedness it's not all doom and gloom, but it makes you realise how bad WWI actually was.
From a sheer entertainment point of view it's 99.9% on my scale, but historically it's only about 80%. Still a magnificent war drama made better by some humerous sections of the film.
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on 25 April 2003
Mark Lee and Mel Gibson give bravura performances in this heart-felt portrayal of young Australians caught up in the bloody consequences of WW1. The engaging characterisations, sympathetic direction, and fresh-faced cast make this a great introduction for those who know little about the Kiwi and Aussie sacrifice in the war, and a reminder to all about the futility of war.
While the New Zealand and British presence and sacrifices are perhaps unnecessarily side-lined by the movie, the finale must rank as one of the most moving in cinema history.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 January 2007
This is a film I have seen several times since it was first issued, and it has always packed a considerable emotional punch. It tells of the accidental friendship of two young Australians, one from a comfortable farming background, the other rather from the other side of the tracks, brought together by their talent as sprinters. Both join up and are transported first to Egypt and then to the Dardanelles. There, at Gallipoli, they play out the last stage of their friendship in the inferno of bullet and shellfire which met the Anzac troops. The film is amusing in places, very characterful, visually very beautiful. The soundtrack seems to me appropriate ; I don't find it dated at all, and the classical pieces fit the sometimes sombre mood and the touching portrayal of the Australian officer who celebrates his wedding anniversary by playing old records of the famous Pearl Fishers' duet. I used to use this film a bit in a film studies course in the school in which I taught and it always left the teenagers silent and thoughtful ; it certainly touched them. Highly recommended.
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on 26 April 2013
I recently saw this on the big screen when the London Australian Film Society screened it on ANZAC Day and it really holds its own.

The script is wonderful - written by one of Australia's greatest playwrites, David Williamson. The acting is fabulous - I think this is Mel at his best and poor old Mark Lee, well he never really shook of this role to move on to others it's so powerfully iconic. The cinematography is gorgeous and say what you will regarding the rather jarring 80s synth theme - if you grew up with this film you can't imagine it with any other soundtrack. All pulled together by Peter Weir. Brilliant.

This is NOT a documentary in any way shape or form. If you want to learn about the Gallipoli campaign then I suggest you read a book about it. This is powerful storytelling with deep anti-war undertones. Tracking the journey of two under-age sprinters as they meet, con their way to signing up and travelling 1/2 way round the world in the search for adventure and find instead the shocking reality of war.

Can't recommend it enough.
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on 22 May 2013
This film is extremely moving and heart wrenching, yet amusing and entertaining. A must see for anyone interested in building up a picture of the First World War.
Not sure why this particular version is called collectors edition, it contains nothing other than the film! But for the price it's well worth a buy.
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on 11 December 2012
I first watched this movie as a young lad within the theatre of the school at which I boarded. This school was a military educational establishment. To showcase this movie, telling the story of the futile and utterly wasteful Gallipoli campaign was an astute move and even as a 12 year old lad I found it astonishing, comforting (comradeship of the highest order in a despicable and diabolical setting) and emotional. I searched for the film on Amazon following the airing of a television programme on Gallipoli and ordered it immediately. Despite the passage of 28 years the film has lost none of its watch ability. Beautifully paced with stunning imagery. This is a must for the collection.
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on 12 January 2011
I bought this on a friends recommendation and like one of the other reviewers, cannot stop watching it! The ending is so poignant, it gives me a lump in my throat everytime. Watching the friendship between Gibson and Lee develop amidst beautiful photography is a joy. One thing I would add. The film was made in 1981 and so I was unsure how well the quality would look on dvd. In fact it is crystal clear, certainly as good a quality as any modernday film might look. The film is well acted and I do wonder why Mark Lee isn't a bigger star than he is.
For the very low price I paid for this film, well worth buying and a very worthy addition to anyones collection.
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on 20 September 2014
Film jumped about at start and finish.
Story O.K. If true, made me so annoyed with general who insisted on going ahead without listening to subordinates. And, cowardly in not going to see for himself. Rather like the leaders safe behind the lines at The Somme. who wouldnt go and see what ordinary folk had to do.
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