Gallipoli Film Review: A Character Study of Australian Heroism

Year:1981

Directed by Peter Weir
Produced by Patricia Lovell, Robert Stigwood
Written by David Williamson and Peter Weir
Cast: Mel Gibson and Mark Lee

Gallipoli is a war film that I have been aware for quite some time, I’ve always planned on watching it, but I haven’t had the chance to look at it. Then it’s almost like it was my fate to watch this film when one of the professors told us to watch the movie for an extra credit homework. Seeing how I was in a scenario where I could ”kill two birds with one stone”, I felt compelled to watch it.

As someone who isn’t even an Australian, I have heard the significance of Gallipoli many times throughout the years. This infamous battle in the Anglosphere is well-known for being a keystone in their journey for self-identity and nationhood. Even though the battle of Gallipoli is technically a military disaster, but the battle went on to encompass Australian patriotism and bravery. Most of what I have said applies to New Zealanders too; it’s vital to their history. Analogously, battle holds a particular significance for Turkish people as well, the battle of Gallipoli is viewed as a heroic defense of the homeland against a horde of invaders.
The friendship between a naive young man and a snide worldly man through the trials of that led them to the battle of Gallipoli and during the battle itself.

War movies are a dime a dozen. There is no denying that many war films tend to blend together, so many of them are hard to tell apart. But for this movie, I am willing to wager Gallipoli is one of the most unique war films in its storytelling. Why? Simply because of its narrative focus. In most war movies, the war and the battles itself are the central backdrop of the film, in Gallipoli, on the other hand, the war itself is simply the final arc of the movie. Gallipoli focuses on what would rather be a simple prolog in other war films. Or in other words, the bulk of the movie could be considered a ”prolog” to the actual war. Gallipoli is more concerned about the journey to war than the war itself. The greatest benefit of this approach, we get a bigger focus on the character themselves; with too many war scenes in a film often our attention drifts towards the action scene instead. Afterward, usually, the character stories within the war film becomes secondary to the action scenes. Gallipoli luckily always stays character focused.
Thus the characters are the bedrock of this film, and everything else is secondary to this element, this makes the friendship between the two main characters more thematically striking. A bond that becomes the force that connects the main two characters, Archy Hamilton and Frank Dunne. Much of the film is willing to explore Frank’s and Archy’s traits; both come to complement each other very well. Aristotle once said that ” friendship is a soul dwelling in two bodies”; this idea is very well reflected here and possibly embodied in both characters being runners. We come to love them so when the tragic circumstances of Gallipoli hit them, the pain and shock of the whole ordeal feel very real.
Gallipoli is a film that shows a human side of the battle of Gallipoli. Those seeking a great human story within this battle should seek out this film.

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