Saturday, December 1, 2012

671. Gallipoli (1981)

Running Time: 110 minutes
Directed By: Peter Weir
Written By: David Williamson, Peter Weir
Main Cast: Mark Lee, Mel Gibson, Robert Grubb, Tim McKenzie, David Argue
Click here to view the trailer


Despite being up since 6:30 this morning (technically yesterday morning, now) and spending four hours Christmas shopping earlier this evening, I'm staying up late tonight to bring you the first post of December 2012 - "Gallipoli".

"Gallipoli" is a war film, but doesn't start out as such. In the opening scene we see an uncle motivating his nephew, Archibald Hamilton (Lee), a runner who is readying himself for a big race. The film continues on with a pretty good hook, establishing Archy as a superb athlete, betting another man that he can race faster on foot than he can on his horse. Meanwhile, however, World War I rages on around the world and young men in Australia, especially Archy, long to enlist in the service and do their patriotic duty. One man who doesn't long to enlist, however, is Frank Dunne (Gibson), another runner who has plans of opening his own bike shop. After Archy's big race (where he competes against Frank and wins), he informs his uncle that he won't be returning home and proceeds to enlist. When the local division won't take him, because they recognize him as not being twenty-one or over, he travels to Perth, in the company of Frank, to try his luck there. Along the way, Archy convinces Frank to sign up and succeeds; both men now ready for battle. Soon the men are sent to Cairo, where they undergo training in the Australian Imperial Force and discover the wonders of the world, outside of Australia. The film culminates with the battle in the city of Gallipoli.


I was enjoying this movie for a while, but then, suddenly, my proverbial umbilical chord to the screen was severed and I slowly, like a dying man losing blood, started to lose interest.The hook was great and I was on board all the way up until Frank and Archy enlisted and were sent to Cairo. That's about the time my personal movie preference calculator clicked off and I shifted into auto pilot. Everything up to that point was fine - decent acting, especially from Gibson, an enjoyable story and it looked like we were going to really establish these characters and make the audience become attached to them before we sent them into battle. However, at about the time they went to Cairo, I sort of stopped caring about where the characters would end up and just hoped they got their as fast as possible. From there, the film really slacks off and all we get for a good chunk is a linking together of various scenes, showing the Australian boys adjusting to life outside of the Outback. It's all very repetitive and dull and gets really old, really fast. Of course, things pick back up during the last 15 - 20 minutes, as we witness the tragic battle of Gallipoli and I couldn't help but be reminded of the film that kicked off this season - " Paths of Glory".

Is it just me or do all war films show the dehumanization of man and the loss of innocence, without ever really establishing any hard and fast characters. Sure, "Gallipoli" does a better job than most war films at establishing it's central characters, but I still wasn't very emotionally invested in them come time for battle. I guess that's better than the usual "band of brothers" that are thrown together, who are barely given identities or personalities - all we need know is that they are soldiers, that's enough. In "Gallipoli", it's as if Weir started out with the intention of introducing us to a couple of characters, but then stopped halfway and said "Eh that's enough". "Gallipoli" wasn't a bad film or anything, but be prepared for a steep drop off come about the forty-five minute mark or so. Like I said though, the ending is very emotional and very well done and honestly, I think I would've preferred a short film that just contained the last twenty-minutes of this movie.

RATING: 6/10  Kind of a 'meh' feeling on this one, although certainly not bad. Call it a thumbs staunchly in the middle.


December 1, 2012  2:50am


  1. I thought this film did a better job than most war movies of showing the tragedy of war and just how much of a waste it is. Promising young men who are just trying to enjoy life are cut down in their prime - for what, exactly? It's all very depressing, and this film really brought out the pacifist in me.

    1. Honestly, the only thing I remember about this movie is the ending...but what an ending. Glad you liked it!


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