A humane, well-observed coming-of-age tale set in the Australian outback, Hammers over the Anvil details with gentle frankness the growing self-awareness of Alan Marshall (Alexander Outhred), a boy whose dreams of riding a... more » horse are hampered as much by his dull shopkeeper father as by the braces on Alan's crippled legs. Alan's idealized role model is the tanned and rugged East Driscoll (Russell Crowe), a friendly but solitary man given to lonely midnight rides, whose individuality and happy embrace of nature seem, to the budding young writer, nearly pagan. (The opening scene of the film is of East merrily splashing about naked in a stream with his horses, with Alan gazing on admiringly.) East is the sort of good-natured, simple soul who thinks nothing of calling the young man always close on his heels a "bloke" and offering him swigs from his flask. Nor is he the type to hesitate from making his move when the lovely Grace McAlister (Charlotte Rampling) comes to town just because her staid husband is in tow. The touching love scenes between East and Grace are believable and carnal (one realizes that part of the reason it took so long for Crowe to reach superstardom was the lack of a female lead who could appraise his unapologetic masculinity as wittily and engagingly as Rampling does here), all the more so for being viewed through Alan's eyes. Ann Turner has crafted a film much quieter that her fine, fantastical Celia (albeit every bit as heartbreakingly ironic), but it is no less sympathetic and understanding of a child's sometimes confusing view of the adult world. --Bruce Reid« less
"Ann Turner's "Hammers Over The Anvil" is a delightful coming of age story set in small town Australia and depicts Australian country life during the early 20th Century (1910). We watch as a young boy grows into a young man while sharing his unique perspective on life and those around him. The young man, who is crippled and uses braces and crutches to get around, shares his thoughts via narration and his life as we are guided through his world as his experiences it. By the end of the story, we gain knowledge of the inner boy, his friendships, family connections, loves, losses, and amazing ability to see past the socially acceptable conclusions toward the true meaning of many human behaviors. The wonderful cast brings a rich fullness to each and every scene. The cast members speak with heavy Australian accents which will necessitate careful listening on most non-Australian viewers parts. Many viewers will rent/buy this film to see a wonderful early performance by a then up and coming Australian actor, Russell Crowe. Mr Crowe does not disappoint his fans and delivers a quality performance as he depicts one of the film's most likable characters. To the viewer's delight, the film's entire cast delivers performances that meet and, at times, out shine the high level performance of Mr Crowe. "Hammers Over The Anvil" presents material which is at times adult in nature, but does so in a respectful and tasteful manner. The scenes which project this material are necessary to successfully depict the plot and its full meaning to the movie's viewers. I enjoyed this movie and know many of you will too."
Dianne Foster | USA | 03/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Russell Crowe has to be one of the best actors around. He is versatile, believeable, and the "Everyman" most of us can identify with on some level. Of course the fact that he's got a great body and reminds me of a boy I was crazy about in high school has nothing to do with my judgement of his acting abilities. Seriously, the actors and the director of this film should be commended. In my book, HAMMERS OVER THE ANVIL ranks right up there with ANGEL AT MY TABLE (Kerry Fox) and MY BRILLIANT CAREER (Judy Davis). All these films are set in Austrailia and New Zealand, directed by women, and about a young person's coming of age. All three of the young protagonists grow up to become writers and the stories are autobiographical. If you appreciated the cinematograpy in Campion's ANGEL AT MY TABLE and you love the Australian countryside you will marvel at scenes shot in the dewy mists of morning, the blazing noon day sun and by moonlight. The DVD is very clear and the frames are well articulated. The Australian Film Board sponsored the film so it's a work of art.HAMMERS OVER THE ANVIL is set in 1910--before WWI. As I watched the film I felt I was observing a lost way of life. Even 50 years ago in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.S. agricultural communities still existed and blacksmiths were relatively common (hammers and anvils). HAMMERS a slice of life, and more. A dramatic series of events unfolds. I won't reveal the ending, but say it did not end the way I thought it would. This film was directed by a woman and contains a strong female lead. Most women I know will appreciate the story. Charlotte Rampling is wonderful and I could totally identify with her in this role (whereas I could not when she played Ms. Haversham in GREAT EXPECTATIONS). She is an excellent actress and her relationship with East (Crowe) was entirely believeable. It may be HAMMERS OVER THE ANVIL is the story of a boy's coming of age, but the women and girls in this film create a real presence. A keeper."
Movie Worth Seeing Again and Again!
Paul Roberts | Orlando, Florida | 07/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was pleasantly surprised recently to discover a gem in the foreign movie circuit I had previously never even heard of before. Hammers over the Anvil is a beautifully told story of awakening adolescence, love, regret and hope. Told through the narration of an adolescent and handicapped boy, the story is really about an ensemble of characters in an Australian town and their relationships with one another. Due mostly to the talented cast of actors in this film as well as the superb writing and direction, Hammers over the Anvil does something few two hour movies achieve - and that is compassion for all of the characters no matter how deceptively small a part each character plays. Russell Crowe proves once again that he was a very fine actor way before fame came his way and an equally talented cast of actors only adds to his performance. This is really the only film I've seen Crowe in where his leading lady brings in as strong a performance as he does. The result is truly one of those great movie romances that makes you wish for more. The scenery is breathtaking, the performances magnificent, the story beautifully written...this is one that I would buy for my personal collection to see again and again!"
T. L. Fentress | Bowling Green, KY United States | 11/14/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased this not even knowing much about it. I am a big fan of Russell Crowe and have found most of his films, whether the film itself is good or not, he brings a certain life and charisma to each of his roles. This is one of his earlier films and certainly bears worth seeing. He won a best actor award for the role as well. You will have to view it with a certain appreciation and an open mind. The opening scene may shock you just alittle but it also expresses the carefreeness of his character, East Driscoll,so I can see how it was necessary to the storyline. I enjoyed the film very much...while it doesn't compare to some of his later films is nonetheless a delightful earlier film although, don't read if you haven't seen, it ends quite sadly. Crowe is wonderful as usual and it is neat to see some of his earlier work before he became such a big star. It is definitely worth a look-see. the acting is also superb."
Complexities of Life Make Up Hammers
becky robison | ft. worth, texas United States | 05/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hammers Over the Anvil is one of those few films that has many of the complexities of life blended together in a way that some part of it will touch the viewer. Life is seen through the eyes of a young boy who does not judge. Instead he can enter each character's intermost being and know their thoughts and feelings. The film won Best Actor for Russell Crowe at the Seattle International Film Festival and the Young Actor's Award for Alexander Outhred at the Australian Film Institute."