Peter Weir’s epic emotionally wrenching anti-war film journeys through a story of two young Australians Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson) and Archy (Mark Lee) during the years of World War One. Answering the call to war, the boys embark on a maiden voyage to a place they have never even heard of, to fight an enemy they have never seen before, a place called Gallipoli. What was meant to be a Shock and Awe military manoeuvre through the Dardanelles and capture the Ottoman Empire capital Constantinople ended up being a beachhead battle. What was meant to be a naval operation now has become an ANZAC offensive force of trench warfare. The Gallipoli Campaign was infamous for its miscalculation, arrogance and underestimating the enemy which resulted in the death of thousands of Australians and New Zealanders.
As we embark on a journey of what seems to be a story of two young men who journey from rural Australia to Perth where they enlist together. Just like most men at that time, the idea of war seemed adventurous and glorious. Peter Weir’s Gallipoli beautifully captures the journey that every young man took on the route to war. The basic training in Egypt fuelled the excitement and in countries capital Cairo, the soldiers enjoy their last carefree time in the bazaar, drinking and visiting brothels. Their free time ends when they land on the beaches in one of the worst battle conditions a war can bring forth. Peter Weir brilliantly captures the sequences of comedic moments of boys being boys and heart touching moments of friends becoming brothers.
As the soldiers arrive at the Anzac Cove they straight away endure the hardship of trench warfare and most often boredom. As days turns to weeks the two young men watch as their friends climb over the trenches and charge to certain death. Frank’s infantry contemporaries fight in the Battle of Lone Pipe, a main assault to capture the main Turkish trench line. Though they were victorious, the casualties reached more than two thousand. A traumatized friend tells Frank the horror of watching their friends die and seeing others in hospital in dreadful conditions.
From what started as a footrace that ended in an amphibious military manoeuvre that proved to be a catastrophic defeat Allies. Peter Weir’s Gallipoli approached the subject of war in such a unique and truthful way. An approach of two young men exited for the prospect of war only to realise the true horrors of being outnumbered by the Turks and their German allies.