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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.28%
Average: 14.89%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 25.53%

1 review, 41 user ratings

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by MP Bartley

"War is Hell. But also Beautiful"
3 stars

Peter Weir has slowly carved himself a reputation as one of the most stylish and interesting directors working today. 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World', 'The Truman Show', 'Fearless', 'Dead Poets Society' - these are the works of someone with a lot of talent. 'Gallipoli' is one of his earlier efforts and features the directors central theme of man and how he adapts to an environment that makes him an outsider.

Archy (Mark Lee) is a champion runner in the Australian outback, but wants to do more with his life. It's 1915 and the Australians are sending over their troops to the African province of Gallipoli to hold back the tide of the German-aligned Turkish army. Archy wants to join the cause and after meeting fellow runner Frank (Mel Gibson) at a competition they join up and are trained for what will go down in history as the Australian version of the Alamo.

Weir's recurring theme of man against the environment is never more clear than here, with some stunning visuals of both Australia and Gallipoli. Frequently, wide expanses of desert or outback swamp the screen, dwarfing Archy and Frank and emphasising just how much power nature has over man. Pyramids tower over them as they undergo their training and they slowly bake under he harsh Australian sun as they trek towards the joining post of Perth.

It's a film that is a constant delight to watch simply because of the sense of awe that Weir invests these shots with. The film is bright and sunny with a palpable sense of the dryness and the scorching heat. You can almost taste the dust at the back of the throat and it's very much inspired by 'Lawrence of Arabia' and Lean's sweeping vistas.

Arguably this shrinks the human interest however. Archy and Frank are very likeable characters, but there's little background as to why they want to join up, or indeed why Gallipoli is so important to the Australians. There's a throwaway line that if Gallipoli falls, Australia could be next, but its importance still remains frustratingly vague.

And with Weir luxuriating in the glorious look of his film, you could forgive him for losing track of his characters. Although Lee is a young and naive presence to empathise with and Gibson is solid if unspectacular, Weir fails to make the most out of them. Archy dissapears right out of the middle of the film and for all the focus of the training of the soldiers (complete with bonding and comic adventures), the nagging feeling remains that Weir is itching to get back to the desert. It's this lack of balance that means the final 15 minutes of the men going over the top lacks the emotional punch. There's only one battle scene, but it is worth getting to as it illustrates the pointlessness of war. But the lack of characterisation (or blood) means it's nowhere near as effective as the opening salvo of 'Saving Private Ryan' or even the final moments of 'Blackadder Goes Forth'.

If it wasn't for these final scenes (and an absolutely brutal use of freeze frame), 'Gallipoli' would be nice-looking, two star travelogue. But it does make a point well as it ends on a sobering last image. It may have taken Weir a couple more pictures before he achieved the balance between characters and their setting, but 'Gallipoli' is still a flawed effort worth catching.

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originally posted: 06/12/04 00:15:24
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User Comments

2/27/18 Suzanne I visited Gallipoli in 2013; both sides"lost" this battle. 5 stars
4/04/11 danny shitshitshitshitfuckPENIS!!!!! 1 stars
3/22/08 Pamela White WWI historical at its best 5 stars
3/14/08 Novak i thought it was a good movie, portrayed well and entertaining. 5 stars
6/28/07 john it was the best movie ever mel gibson is sexy 5 stars
2/12/07 hailie it sucked what was up with the ending?? soo dumb 1 stars
8/14/06 Sepi53 Goog 4 stars
5/18/06 chienne a perfect film on the futility of war 5 stars
4/18/06 AJ great film about mates going to war. 5 stars
4/09/06 Aimee I loved this film, especially the ending, but Sergeant York is still my favourite war film. 5 stars
11/08/05 Char i wished mark lee (archy) didnt die and mel gibson (frank) came earlier! 5 stars
9/22/05 Steve movie = fkn pwns, im using it for yr 12 study. Good movie. Emotional 4 stars
4/04/05 Ric Slow-paced, but good acting and a strong climax do much to redeem the film. 4 stars
11/23/04 nicole great movie, very interesting to look at in detail in terms of whether the details were tru 5 stars
11/14/04 Fred Feeney It was pov 1 stars
10/25/04 Emma M Mark Lee is awesome, movie was good and very emotional. 5 stars
10/25/04 Ivan displays the sadness in wars, dont do drugs and go to war 5 stars
9/03/04 Loretta Being a First World War historian, I have to say this is one of the best WW1 movies. 5 stars
8/18/04 paul a horrible movie 1 stars
8/18/04 Louise Not really that good of a movie but not a complete waste of time 1 stars
8/18/04 Kelly It was a really bad war movie with a horrible plot 1 stars
8/18/04 John Not that good of a war movie, bland plot, bad acting and there is no reason to watch it 1 stars
8/18/04 Amy It was not really that good of a war movie and i suggest that you don't bother watching it! 1 stars
8/18/04 Jake IT WAS THE WORST WAR MOVIE I HAVE EVER SEEN, A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
8/18/04 Achmed IT WAS THE WORST WAR MOVIE I HAVE EVER SEEN, A TOTAL PIECE OF CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
7/18/04 Joseph lacks war plot, great acting from Mel Gibson and Mark Lee 3 stars
7/02/04 David Philbrook Excellent and underrated film. Excellent depection on the senselessness of war 4 stars
6/08/04 Averill captured the australian spirit it makes you stop and think what anzac day is all about 4 stars
4/28/04 salwa its soooo stupid 1 stars
11/30/03 john a great film - Weir at the peek of his form 5 stars
3/21/03 sal freer capture the raw truth in many ways about the powerlessness of the colonies 4 stars
3/11/03 Apathy After it's premier in Australia, the audience sat there for 15 minutes without a word. 4 stars
10/23/02 Charles Tatum Excellent, Weir is so good with this material 5 stars
3/24/02 R.W. Welch Impressive account of doomed WWI mission, only slightly hped. 4 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye One of the best war movies ever. 5 stars
10/30/00 Emma ohhh... suuuch a good movie, it shows the australian character so well. brilliant yet sad. 4 stars
11/07/99 Anthony Ellis Final freeze-frame shot will stay with me forever. Engrossing look at human drama of war. 5 stars
10/30/99 Bozo the only movie in which i can tolerate watching that hateful asshole Mel 5 stars
11/24/98 Lord Of The Dunce Great Australian filmmaking. Peter Weir made his mark here, as did Mel Gibson. 5 stars
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  28-Aug-1981 (PG)
  DVD: 13-Dec-2005


  02-Jul-1982 (PG)

Directed by
  Peter Weir

Written by
  Peter Weir
  David Williamson

  Mark Lee
  Mel Gibson
  Bill Kerr
  Harold Baigent
  Harold Hopkins
  Charles Yunupingu

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