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147
4.5 out of 5 stars
Beneath Hill 60 [DVD] [2010]
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198 of 201 people found the following review helpful
It was not long ago that I watched the excellent Australian film "Kokoda 39th Batallion", which brought deserved attention to the less well known conflict in Papua New Guinea during the Second World War. They have done it again with "Beneath Hill 60", which is the true story of the 1st Australian tunnellers, with particular emphasis on their involvement in the Battle of Messines during World War One. It was a story that was truly crying out to be told. The screenplay for the film was adapted from the war diaries of Captain Oliver Woodward who served with the tunnellers. A film about the role played by the tunnellers during the Great War has been long overdue. The novel "Birdsong" brought home the horrors of this type of war to me. Men toiling beneath the earth to set off huge mines beneath enemy positions. Then there were counter mines from the enemy, which sometimes ended in brutal hand to hand combat where men hacked at each other with spades.

The film captures the awful realities of the war under the ground, whilst interweaving flashbacks of the captains romance back home. Whilst I don't pretend to be an expert, the action seems very authentic, with detail such as the listening posts and the reference to digging down to the blue clay to avoid water flooding. The conditions and scenes of World War One action around the Ypres salient are very convincing. I have visited the Flanders field museum in Ypres and the film certainly looked like many of the photos I saw there. It is remarkable to think all this was done in Australia. Prior to the commencement of the Messines Battle, 19 mines were set off simultaneously, in the greatest man made explosion the world had ever witnessed. It was heard in London and Dublin, and changed the geography of the area. An estimated 10,000 German soldiers were killed. It was not until testing the atomic bomb in 1945 that there was a larger explosion. Sadly although the allies gained valuable ground initially it was retaken by the Germans in a matter of months, and the bloody stalemate continued.

The acting is solid by all the cast, and star Brendan Cowell is particularly effective as Woodward. Jeremy Sim's has directed this large production with an impressively sure hand. It is always difficult to bring something new to the canon of World War One movies that has not already been done, and usually done well by someone, but Sim's and his crew have managed this. There might be an even more definitive film to be made about the tunnellers, but for the time being this will more than suffice. It is an entertaining and informative film, that casts light on a lesser known chapter of the Great War. Well worth watching.
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97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2010
A good honest film about the British Empire forces in the First World War, albeit from an Australian perspective. That said there is not modern stereotypical characterisations, the British soldiers are depicted fairly and there is no modern anti-British sentiment in this. This is just a good honest story about soldiers and the travails that they faced whilst serving on the Western Front. The British film industry could learn a lot from this production, the research on the Uniforms and equipment is first rate and the depictions of the social mores of the time are excellent too. It tells good story of men at war without a ham fisted attempt at making a point. I recommend this to everyone interested in the Great War.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I would just like to thank the other positive reviewers on this page as it was due to them that I bought this DVD. It is based on the book of the same name and I intend to get that next. This film is based on the exploits of a group of volunteer Australian miners who were employed during WW 1 to undermine and then blow up enemy German positions. This is part of their truly monumentally brave story.

The film is so authentic in its presentation of the terrible conditions endured by all sides at the front and is more astonishing as it was filmed in Australia and funded by inter alia The Australian Film Commission. The acting is spot on, the cinematography though not beautiful does exactly what you would want in terms of conveying the filth and the sense of claustrophobia when below ground. They do not shy away from the gruesome detail and Alan Dukes and Brendan Cowell are both excellent leads.

That said there is not one lack lustre performance and every one comes across as believable. The story is told with a modicum of flash backs but this is so well balanced that it helps the narrative flow. For fans of 'Birdsong' by Sebastian Faulks, this film will add to the plot. For fans of history it also tells a part of the amazing Allied attack on the Messine Ridge. This really is a great film that seemed to just fly by (only one cup of tea - always a good sign)you will not be sorry for the purchase
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2010
Released for anzac day in Australia this film is based on a true story and is a gripping tale where you get to know the ins and out of every character. It sees both points of view from either side which is a nice touch and also the effects after its over. Highly watchable with exciting scenes and great attention to detail but amazingly contains humerous moments aswell.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is an excellent Australian war movie, based on the real events, about the tunnelers - soldiers who waged a little known but extremely dangerous and deadly war under the trench lines during World War I.

This film tells mainly the story of one Australian tunneler unit, composed mostly of coal and copper miners, during their succesive missions on Western Front in 1916 and 1917, with the dramatic battle of Messines (7-14 June 1917) being the final fight. The main character is Lieutenant (later Captain) Oliver Woodward (Brendan Cowell), who actually really existed - this film is based on the written accounts of his actions which were conserved by his family.

The scenario is very strong and very dramatic. Fighting scenes are excellent. The conditions of life in the trenches during World War I are very skillfully recreated. Details of weapons and uniforms were very well respected. All actors performed very well and dialogs are good.

But the real strength of this film is the perfect control of the film by the director, who chose to show the "War to end all wars" by sticking to the facts and events and keeping drama and emotions at a reasonable level, and I believe this was a winning move. People certainly do not hide their feelings in this film and there is one scene with a shell shocked young soldier which is pretty intense, but the thing is never overdone. The language is occasionally very strong but here also director avoided the excess - as it is true that unlike Hollywood would like us to believe most people do NOT use the F-bomb in every sentence, even under stress... And I found that the tired and occasionally cynical stoicism of the "diggers" and "tommies" showed more about the horror of trenches in World War I than most of extraverted gesticulations and yellings.

A good idea was to alternate war scenes with occasional back flashes of Woodward's life in Australia before he joined in 1916 and especially his memories of the love of his life, Marjorie, who at 16 was still too young to be married when he went to war... Those memories of another life and their contrast with war in trenches are a very succesful thing.

I will not say much about the underground war and savage fights in the tunnels shown in this film to avoid spoilers, but this is a unique thing. I never saw before a war film dealing with this particular kind of warfare and this one immediately sets the standard to which any possible successors will be measured.

Another strong point is that even if one high ranking officer is shown as an arrogant and mostly incompetent jerk, as a whole this film does not criticize the army. Some characters which seem as snotty and unsufferable appear in a completely different light once shots are fired in anger and if generals and officers are ruthless, this is because they have no choice... The film shows that if war is mostly evil, it is not necessarily the case of people who wage it... And such a reasonable approach is a very rare and precious thing in modern cinema.

Bottom line, this is one of the best war films I ever saw and definitely the BEST war film I saw recently. Enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2011
Having had my fingers burned with some recent WW1 films (e.g. the ridiculous Passchendale) I was a bit wary about this one despite the rave reviews that were printed on the cover. That said, everything about it was good or excellent and I thought it told the story of the tunnellers really well. Can't fault it, and well worth a watch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2013
Definitely one of my top three war films. Have shown it to my GCSE students for the last few years now and every one of them loved it. I disagree with the comments about flashbacks, they help remind us that this is based on a true story with real people and understand their motives for going to war. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2014
I know the site of Hill 60 quite well. A very undistingushed lump of spoil from a railway cutting, as stated by one carechter in the film 'Is that it?' But tread carfully, you don't know who you are treading on!
This is a superb film, very understaed, beatiffuly made, exact in detail and totally absorbing. Having watched it, I now have a better idea how it must have been at Hellfire Corner, and down the tunnels. I wouldn't have wanted to be there. If ytou are planning a visit to the area, this film will give more understanding tha any book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2013
Read about Hill 60 and trench mining of the first World War a while ago. My late grandfather and his brother where Royal Engineers in the first World War and ive spoken to people envovled in that type of trench warfare on the Somme.
Interesting movie brings the activities of trench miners to life in this drama.
I thought well shown brings a complex subject together will view it again.
And all in the comfort of my own home.
Dvd purchased at a very keen price and with good delivery to my door you cannot beat it.
This was one of a batch of nine Dvds bought from various Amazon suppliers ive already bought nine more Dvds and I will buy more.
I used to go to the pictures regularly but at over £10 a ticket its just to expensive particulary if your making an evening of it.
Stay in the comfort of your own home eat what you like drink what you like pause where you like and have any one you like round to view it with you what could be better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2011
From the start, I thought this was going to be another "here's the comrades, here's the gradual deaths of the comrades, all wrapped up in a trench." So pleased to be wrong. This film had a main character with a story line that was believable and matched the time and mentality of the period perfectly. A view of the men, from both sides, showing their ordeals with trench life, commanders, allies and the job they needed to do. It didn't focus on the mud and guts, not to say that it's not there, but it accompanied the film and worked with it, so that when the plot lines were being fleshed out, you weren't just hoping for a full on No Mans Land fight scene to make the film interesting.

So, if you're looking for a WWI film with plot and substance, I haven't found better than this.

If you're more a blood and guts type of person, the lack of continous guns and explosions will dissapoint.
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