Review by Gordon Justesen
Mel Gibson, Mark Lee
Director: Peter Weir
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo, French Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 111 Minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2005
see you when I see you.”
if I see you first.”
Unless you were
born and raised in Australia, then you are probably most unfamiliar with the
battle that took place during World War I in the year 1915. The battle took
place in the Turkish city of Gallipoli, and it would have an ever lasting effect
on Australia and its people. For it was the country’s first taste of the
horrors of war.
Director Peter Weir
recreated this chapter in history to a sheer, powerful effect in Gallipoli,
the director’s first large scale production. For Weir, one of Australia’s
most treasured filmmakers, it would serve as an opening gate for such bigger
productions down the road like The
Mosquito Coast and Master and
Commander. There’s no doubt that
this film helped in making Weir the masterful filmmaker he has become.
The film uses World
War I as a backdrop to tell the tale of two close friends. They are Archy
Hamilton (Mark Lee) and Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson). The two first meet as
competitive world-class runners in their native country. They become friends,
and as World War I escalates, Archy convinces Frank that they should join the
army to fight for God and country.
The two enlist in
the Light Horse Calvary, despite the face that Archy is not old enough to fight
and Frank doesn’t exactly know how to ride a horse. Regardless of their flaws,
they sign up to fight. Both Archy and Frank are eager to do their duty, yet they
are unaware of what awaits them in Gallipoli.
the two are sent to Cairo to begin their training, alongside their fellow
countrymen. These sequences are captured most beautifully through Weir’s
directing and Russell Boyd’s cinematography. Although they did sign up to
serve God and country, it doesn’t lower Archy and Frank’s free spirited
The actual war
accompanies the final twenty minutes of the movie, and it is a most harrowing
sequence. As the Australian army proceeds to rise from the trenches, they are
picked off almost immediately by Turkish fire. Think of the opening of Saving
Private Ryan, where soldiers were killed instantly upon arriving on
Normandy’s beaches, and you get the idea of how horrific the battle was.
And the film
includes what is simply one of the most heartbreaking final shots in the history
of cinema. I can’t bear to reveal what happens, but believe me when I say that
it will hit your nerves quite hard. It’s a shot that puts a brutal finish to
the journey we’ve made with these two characters. It’s the kind of closing
to a film that you simply don’t see anymore.
directing courtesy of Peter Weir, two engaging performances from Gibson and Lee,
and an authentic recreation of WWI, Gallipoli
is a superb depiction of the effects war has on the simplest things in life.
It’s a journey that deserves to be taken, no matter how familiar or unfamiliar
you are with the historical events.
handling from Paramount is incredibly superb for a film from 1981. Weir’s
vision and the cinematography are beautifully transferred. The locations are
amazingly captured, from Australia to Egypt to Turkey. Though several night
shots have a couple of soft instances, the presentation is mostly clear and
sharp, easily making this one of the best rendered 80’s films to come out this
The 5.1 mix boasts
a nice sound quality for this film with a twenty-plus year age. The music
selections, including the powerful “Adagio in G Minor”, sound nothing short
of stirring. Dialogue delivery is nicely handled, and the climatic war footage
delivers the kind of effect you’d expect.
For this Special
Collector’s Edition release, the primary feature is a six-part documentary
retrospective, titled, “Entrenched: The Making of Gallipoli”, which features
in-depth interviews with filmmakers and cast members. Also included is a