August 28th, 1981



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Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.

Release Year: 1981

Rating: 7.6/10 (17,378 voted)

Critic's Score: 65/100

Director: Peter Weir

Stars: Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr

The story of a group of young Australian men who leave their various backgrounds behind and sign up to join the ANZACs in World War I. They are sent to Gallipoli, where they encounter the might of the Turkish army.

Writers: Peter Weir, David Williamson

Mark Lee - Archy Hamilton
Bill Kerr - Jack
Harold Hopkins - Les McCann
Charles Lathalu Yunipingu - Zac (as Charles Yunupingu)
Heath Harris - Stockman
Ron Graham - Wallace Hamilton
Gerda Nicolson - Rose Hamilton
Mel Gibson - Frank Dunne
Robert Grubb - Billy
Tim McKenzie - Barney
David Argue - Snowy
Brian Anderson - Railway Foreman
Reg Evans - Athletics Official 1
Jack Giddy - Athletics Official 2
Dane Peterson - Announcer

Taglines: From a place you never heard of...a story you'll never forget.

Release Date: 28 August 1981

Filming Locations: Adelaide Railway Station, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Box Office Details

Budget: AUD 2,600,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $59,757 (USA) (30 August 1981) (2 Screens)

Gross: $5,732,587 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Carries the disclaimer: "Although based on events which took place on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915, the characters portrayed in this film are entirely fictitious."

Continuity: When the young Australians ride the donkeys past the two British officers under the archway, in the first shot, looking behind the officers, there are three of them. In the next shot, looking to the front of the officers as they ride past, there are suddenly four on donkeys.

[first lines]
Jack: [to Archy] Deeper. Come on, deeper, deeper.

User Review

Funny and tragic

Rating: 9/10

There are anti-war movies that work by rubbing your nose in the gore and brainless waste of war, and then there are those that are more subtle and cunning, and approach your sensibilities from behind. Gallipoli, certainly one of the best Australian films of the modern era, is one of the latter. It depicts war as a game right up until the last 20 minutes; it derives comic dialogue from it, and in some scenes openly ridicules the concept of soldiering. A platoon is swimming naked in the ocean at Gallipoli, for example, and one man is hit by falling shrapnel, causing resounding cheers - this not only means he will be going home but he has also won a sizeable kitty. The movie is effectively one of two overlapping halves: the first shows who the Australians of 1915 were, how they thought, felt and behaved; the second plonks them into the unnatural setting of a foreign war run by the British, who are shown as both different and distant.

It is a long film, and it does move slowly, particularly when Weir is establishing Archie and Frank's friendship. But as mentioned, the strength of this movie is that it goes to lengths to describe Australian attitudes of the time. Archie is keen to join up to escape the boredom and isolation of the farm, but is naive and unenlightened about why the war is being fought; when he meets a nomadic camel-driver in the middle of the blistering desert and tells him that the Germans must be stopped or they'll end up "here", the nomad looks around and mutters "..and they're welcome to it." Frank, however, is more worldly and realistic about war; it takes a longer chain of events to convince him to join up, and even then he does so reluctantly.

These Australians then find themselves in Egypt, playing football alongside the pyramids, frequenting brothels and clashing with both local merchants and British officers. Cultural comparisons are made, then they find themselves at Gallipoli, one of the biggest military gambles of World War I and also one of its worst errors. From here there is a biting sense of 'war as sport' from hereonin, as the Australians engage in games with the Turkish, without taking it overly seriously (or, at least, trying to avoid the appearance that they are). With the push into Turkey in stalemate, the British - always shown as the driving force - resort to charging the men from trenches into elevated positions protected by machine-gunners. From this comes the emotional, but hardly unexpected climax.

Gallipoli is Australia's All Quiet on the Western Front, but instead of using personal conscience as its catalyst, it reverts to that oft-used Australian concept of 'mateship'. War brings together mates, then it callously separates them. You would struggle to find a movie that better illustrates this cruelty.


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