Blog Directory CineVerse: Living (and dying) in the land down under

Living (and dying) in the land down under

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Actor Mel Gibson was hot stuff by the mid-1980s. But few film fans are even aware that he starred in a number of Australian productions starting in the late 1970s, including Gallipoli (1981), an impressive outing by Australian New Wave director Peter Weir. Our CineVerse gang unpacked this coming-of-age/anti-war drama and found many merits (to hear a recording of our group discussion of this film, click here).

What stood out as noteworthy, impressive, or unanticipated about this film?

  • Only the third and final act concerns World War I; unlike so many other war films, the majority of this movie is a relationship study between two friends and their journey to get to the battlefield, with several exciting, humorous, and exotic experiences along the way. The final battle in the trenches actually only concerns the last 30 minutes or so of the picture, and the inevitable violence is only depicted in the final minutes.
  • This movie is more focused on the bromance that develops between two young athletes – Archy and Frank. This is more a story about friendship, camaraderie, and maturing into adulthood.
  • Interestingly, the movie’s first act plays as a sports film. Luke Buckmaster, film critic for The Guardian wrote: “For the first 25 minutes, Gallipoli is an archetypal sports movie, the protagonist establishing his skills in against-the-odds challenges (he outruns a man on a horse then wins a race with mangled feet).”
  • This features a very young and fresh-faced Mel Gibson in only his seventh film role – one that earned him an Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role.

Themes on display in Gallipoli

  • Loss of innocence.
  • Disillusionment – the young men quickly learn that war is not a game or fun adventure that represents the height of male experience; instead, it’s a brutal, tragic, and cruel endeavor in which men are treated as a disposable commodity.
  • Coming of age: the journey from boyhood to manhood. Recall how Uncle Jack reads from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling earlier in the film, describing how Mowgli must leave his family of wolves and assimilate into humankind.
  • The power of friendship.
  • The athlete as warrior, and the warrior as athlete.
  • Larrikinism. A larrikin is an Australian English term defined as "a mischievous young person, an uncultivated, rowdy but good-hearted person," or "a person who acts with apparent disregard for social or political conventions.”
  • Patriotic pride. “One of the reasons the Gallipoli landing is so significant to our nation’s history and national identity is that our innocence and ignorance drove us to rush into a situation we had no comprehension of,” wrote Australian blogger Daniel Lammin.

Other movies we think of after watching Gallipoli

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Paths of Glory
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Das Boot
  • Breaker Morant
  • The Lighthorsemen
  • Platoon
  • The Water Diviner
  • 1917

Other films directed by Peter Weir

  • Picnic at Hanging Rock
  • The Year of Living Dangerously
  • Witness
  • Dead Poet’s Society
  • The Truman Show
  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

  © Blogger template Cumulus by 2008

Back to TOP