Peter Weir’s film remains an Australian classic twenty years after its first release. It provides an Australian perspective on the disastrous Gallipoli operation of April 1915 during the First World War when thousands of ANZAC and Allied troops were defeated and slaughtered by Turkish troops.
The film tells the story of two Australian sprinters, Frank (a youthful Mel Gibson) and Archy (Mark Lee), who come from contrasting social backgrounds, enlist in the army at the same time and end up together on the same stretch of beach at Gallipoli. They move from a fierce rivalry to a relationship where one is prepared to sacrifice himself for the other.
Through these characters, the film recreates an Australian tragedy, a nation’s experience of loss and defeat, out of which came a sense of Australian identity and separateness from Britain.
The film marked an important stage in Peter Weir’s career. Henceforth he would make films with an international rather than specifically Australian focus, including Witness, Dead Poets Society and The Truman Show.
Australia 1981 Drama 110 mins Director: Peter Weir