Judith S. Inouye | north bend, oregon | 07/23/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
""1915" is an Australian TV miniseries which ostensibly depicts the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign of World War 1. It was broadcast in 1982, one year after Peter Weir's "Gallipoli" was released. The two films have more than a superficial resemblance. They both star "mates" from the Australian boonies who volunteer for the Light Horse and eventually find themselves in the cauldron of Gallipoli. One of them, Billy, is dark-haired and hot-tempered. The other, Wally, is blonde and idealistic. They superficially resemble the Mel Gibson and Mark Lee characters in "Gallipoli."
Presented in seven segments (six hours), "1915" is less about the War than about the four main characters, the two young men and two women they meet in Sydney. Frances, played by Sigrid Thornton, is a dark-haired, erratic 19 year-old who spends part of her time with her mother in Sydney and part in the boonies with her father who runs a hotel. The other, Diana, wishes to become a "scientist" studying Darwinian Evolution. The two are best friends and play off against each other well. The first four episodes concern the adventures and relationships of the quartet and are mostly "soap opera." There is not much that is original, but the acting sustains the episodes. Of the four,Billy played by Scot McGregor, is the most interesting and contradictory: he tends lovingly to his dying mother and then rapes a young black woman and makes off with "200 quid" from an employer who has murdered his (the employer's)wife.
The War is not depicted until the final three episodes, and even then it is frequently interrupted by the goings on at home. The main problem in the final episodes is that the viewer may feel little or no sympathy for the characters. Weir's Australian mates are both sympathetic and straightforward, which makes the final scenes both exciting and gut-wrenching. The characters in "1915," however, are mostly unsympathetic. Wally in particular seems a strangely unemotional and passive character.
The picture on the DVD is hazy,probably in keeping with the TV technology of the 80's. The sound is very subdued by modern standards. Sometimes the Aussie slang is difficult to understand. There is no background material in the DVD; it is a simple, stark presentation.
I gave the film three stars mostly for the performances of the main characters. However, those seeking a rip-roaring yarn about the Australian Light Horse in World War 1 are going to be disappointed.
If you want to see an excellent film about Gallipoli, by all means watch Peter Weir's movie."