An outstanding drama, Gallipoli resonates with sadness long after you have seen it. Set during World War I, this brutally honest antiwar movie was cowritten by director Peter Weir. Mark Lee and a sinfully handsome Mel Gibs... more »on are young, idealistic best friends who put aside their hopes and dreams when they join the war effort. This character study follows them as they enlist and are sent to Gallipoli to fight the Turks. The first half of the film is devoted to their lives and their strong friendship. The second half details the doomed war efforts of the Aussies, who are no match for the powerful and aggressive Turkish army. Because the script pulls us into their lives and forces us to care for these young men, we are devastated by their fate. --Rochelle O'Gorman« less
"It's unfortunate in the extreme that the First World War has largely fallen by the wayside. If we hear anything about the conflict at all, it's usually on the History Channel or another network airing a documentary full of grainy, black and white clips of men stumbling over the top of trenches. Interest in historical events tends to drop off significantly when those involved pass away, and in the case of the generation that fought this horrific war not only have they exited the stage, they have left the building as well. I developed a life long interest in "the war to end all wars" after seeing Peter Weir's 1981 film "Gallipoli" in a small, run down art house theater at the age of ten. I didn't understand the historical context at the time, but this dramatic interpretation of events that unfolded in the Dardanelles during 1915 left a lasting impression on my impressionable mind. I recently rewatched the film and can say that it still works as an intense drama and as a serious antiwar statement. Weir's overt hostility toward the British commanders at Gallipoli, however, doesn't stand up as well. By the way, this is one of the films that propelled Mel Gibson to international stardom.
Weir decided to focus his film not on the massive armies battling away in Europe, but on two individuals living in Australia. Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) and Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson) are two of the fastest runners in the country. Hamilton trains with his demanding grandfather, who promises the young lad that if he works hard he may yet go down as the next national sports hero. Frank, on the other hand, wanders around the country with a few buddies taking any job he can get and generally just having a lot of fun. News of the escalating war in Europe is vague and distant, referenced only when someone brings up a news story they saw in the paper. Archy wants to go and fight, attracted by the lure of glory that has suckered millions of young people since the dawn of time into disaster. Frank doesn't think of war as glory, and when his pals bring up the idea of enlisting he quietly makes his position known. Both of these young men's lives are forever changed after the end up competing against each other in a foot race at a regional fair. Archy barely wins, but a friendship develops between the two that soon finds Frank tagging along when Archy decides to enlist in the illustrious cavalry. Frank agrees to join with Archy, once he discovers that the ladies love a soldier, but goes into the infantry after failing to qualify for the light horse unit.
It really doesn't matter anyway since horses won't make a bit of difference when the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers head first to Egypt and then the Dardanelles for combat against the Ottoman Turks. What the war effort needs are bodies capable of running headlong into a withering wall of machine gun fire, and cavalry troops minus their steeds will work in this capacity just as well as infantrymen. Before they reach the killing fields, Archy and Frank reunite during a training exercise in Egypt. Hamilton convinces his commander to enlist Dunne in the cavalry, claiming that his skills as a runner rival his own and that both men will make a major contribution to the regiment. Weir shows us plenty of carefully crafted scenes of the men having a good time in Cairo, of the deepening camaraderie taking place even as the war looms larger and larger in the background. The movie takes a doom and gloom turn as the ANZAC forces land at Gallipoli to take part in the fighting. Casualties mount as attacks designed to expand the beachhead fail under Turkish machine guns. Soon, Archy and Frank know they will have to go over the top too, and realize they will certainly perish in the process. The conclusion to "Gallipoli" is one of the most emotionally grinding, soul shattering denouements in motion picture history.
The only thing I found extremely irritating about "Gallipoli" is the cheesy synth musical score, which now sounds so early 1980s that it dates the picture terribly. I think the message about how people join up to go to war for all the wrong reasons, however, is still highly relevant. And if there was any war that everyone should have avoided, it was World War I. Generals and leaders still subscribed to antiquated notions of warfare, never taking into account machine guns, poison gas, and airplanes would decimate the troops. The fatalities were truly appalling, with millions perishing in muddy trenches during the four year conflict. Weir expertly depicts the squalid conditions of the trenches, but he goes too far blaming the film's fatal charge on the British commanders. First of all, far more British soldiers died during the campaign in the Dardanelles than did members of ANZAC. Second, why place the onus for the war on the British? Plenty of commanders on all sides made mistake after mistake in this conflagration, mistakes that resulted in so many fatalities that it's a wonder humanity didn't rise up and cast their leaders into the fire.
"Gallipoli" wins the day in the end thanks to the charm of Mark Lee and Mel Gibson. Weir's cinematography sinks its claws in as well. Check out the shots of the Australian outback, the Red Cross party, and the landing at Gallipoli to learn why. The transfer looks good, but the only extra on the disc is a short interview with Weir about the making of the film. I wanted a commentary track for this film desperately, and still hope a special edition will arrive on the market in the near future. If you haven't seen "Gallipoli," check it out soon. "
A gripping and moving masterpiece
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 07/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the best films I've ever seen. Mark Lee and Mel Gibson are magnificent and positively radiant in this tale of two friends caught up in a horrifying war...the innocence of these characters, and their courage, will move you to tears. Peter Weir has made many wonderful films (like "Witness") but none in my opinion as powerful as this. The score by Brian May is beautiful and uses Albinoni's glorious "Adagio in G minor" for the titles, credits, and during the film. If you were only to see 10 films in your entire life, this should be one of them."
A good cinematic experience
tom strait | Ann Arbor, MI, USA | 12/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's been a few things said about this movie, several reviewers mentioned that it was slow-moving, and another pointed out with exasperating pedantry the historical inaccuracies, but I'd like to say that I think 'Gallipoli' is a good movie. It was well shot and well acted, the characters were real and believeable, the score was magnificient, the story was inspiring, and although the script had less action than, say, 'Saving Private Ryan' it also wasn't wasteful - one wouldn't have cared about the people if one didn't know them.Which is also the point. If `Gallipoli' wasn't historically accurate, and it's tough to represent a yearlong epic in an hour and a half, one does get the point. Which, of course, is that wars, especially this one, and especially this battle, are stupid, self-serving and pointlessly destructive endeavors.I'm dumbfounded by the reviewer who chose to lambaste the portrayal of the British officers in the campaign. I'm surprised an Aussie would say that, but then again there're plenty of Yanks who'll second guess Harry S Truman from now till the end of time, so who am I to judge. While I'm the first to admit that those words were probably not said, I have to believe that the blue blood of the capital officers taught them not to give a damn about the sweat and blood of some poor sons-of-criminals from a lost colony. I'm not alone, and I quote from John Merriman's History of Modern Europe, p1059, "Other [historians] agree with most contemporaries who believed that [Gallipoli] was a needless diversion dictated by British colonial interests in the Middle East and for which Australian and New Zealander troops paid a disproportionate price." The aristocratic attitude of the officers in the Great War was the single thing that caused the casualty rates The well-bred officers didn't care that they were sending men with bolt-action rifles against entrenched machine guns because they were just peasants (or Australians) anyway. That is the historical truth, and I for one like how it came out in the training sequence as well as the battle sequences of this movie. It belongs in the collection of anybody who doesn't want to go to war."
Weir's Best Film
R. Albin | Ann Arbor, Michigan United States | 01/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This excellent film is probably the best movie made by the talented Australian director Peter Weir. While Weir has a made a number of very good films, notably The Year of Living Dangerously and the recent Master and Commander, the subject matter of Gallipoli is the most serious of any of Weir's films. Gallipoli is the general title for the series of WWI battles in which the Western Allies attempted to force the Dardanelles and knock Turkey out of the war. Some, including Winston Churchill, himslef one of the prime movers behind the campaign, argued that Allied success at Gallipoli would have been decisive. This has been disputed by recent historians. The Gallipoli campaigns were the first large scale attempt at amphibious assault and were an organizational and tactical disaster. The Allied commanders flubbed several chances to beat the Turks. The Turkish defense was tenacious and much of the action became the trench warfare characteristic of much of WWI. The Allies failed, at great cost, though Turkish casulties were also quite high.
Gallipoli holds a special resonance for Australians. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was the first major overseas participation of Australian and New Zealand troops fighting as national formations. The ANZACs fought courageously, prefiguring the outstanding performance of Australian and New Zealand infantry in both World Wars. Gallipoli appears to occupy the place in Australian history that the Civil War occupies in American life. Australia (possibly also New Zealand) is the only country that regularly celebrates a major military defeat.
Weir's movie is a powerful depiction of the Australian experience at Gallipoli. The story is simple. A pair of friends from Western Australia enlist, are sent to Gallipoli, and one of them dies in one of the famous and bungled attacks characteristic of the campaign, indeed of the whole war. Weir uses this conventional war movie formula in particularly creative ways. A good deal of the movie takes place prior to enlistment. Weir uses these scenes to convey his image of Australia as rural, provincial, starkly beautiful, and in important ways, profoundly innocent. The war scenes are beautifully prepared and photographed. Weir and his team apparently used a careful study of photographs from Gallipoli to construct scenes in the movie. I recognized parts of scenes as being almost identical to some famous photos of trench life in Gallipoli. The scenes before and during the climactic assault are devastatingly powerful.
This film was made in Australia, by Australians, and for Australians. Some important aspects of the story are simply assumed. These are things that would be known by Australians but not by Americans. The infantry assault depicted in the film were diversions and part of the Battle of Suvla Bay, an attempt to break out of the limited beachheads established in the initial landings. Had the Suvla Bay attacks been successful, the Allies would have beaten Turkey in 1915. Suvla Bay almost succeeded and failed largely because of poor leadership and communications. Because of the latter, the sacrifice of the ANZACs was entirely wasted. Australian audiences would know this and this fact gives the ending of the film a particularly bitter flavor. The end of the movie shows the suicidal attack of the Light Horse on entrenched Turkish positions. The Light Horse suffered 50% casulties that morning."
One of the best war films made.
brian91174 | Hacienda Heights, ca USA | 03/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While Gallipoli is only a "war" movie for about the last 45 minutes, it is still among the best war movies made. In fact, I believe that the attention paid to character development, which fleshes out the characters and makes them more than just uniformed soldiers to the viewer, is really what makes this a great anti-war film. I first saw this film in 8th grade, when my history class was studying the Great War and its causes. The callousness of the British officers as depicted in the movie was probably somewhat exaggerated, and there are historical inaccuracies in the film, but these are minor points best left to be argued by people who don't have a life. (Like those who argue about certain points of detail in "Saving Private Ryan")All in all, I rate this movie among other anti-war greats as Stalingrad, Cross of Iron and Platoon."