Paramount/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 106 mins .
PG . PAL
"I know you still havenít forgiven me for running off.
But I am sure in my own mind that I was right, and so would you if you where with me now. Weíre getting ready to make an all-out assault on Johnny Turk, and we know weíre gonna give a good account of ourselves, and our country.
Everyoneís terribly excited. Thereís a feeling that weíre all involved in an adventure thatís somehow larger than life."
Our editor in chief allows us to pick out a quote from the film to share with our readers. Itís a struggle sometimes, but after viewing this film again and again over the years, this is the one quote that sticks with me thatís said by the character Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) long after the credits have rolled. Itís so simple and poignant, and is the film summed up perfectly.
Peter Weir's Gallipoli is a powerful film about the loss of innocence through war. The story is about two young men Archy (Lee) & Frank (Mel Gibson) from opposite sides of the class spectrum joined by the reckless passion for adventure and the chance to make a difference and stand out from the rest. In a country that was struggling to find its own identity at the time, with our mother land England involved in World War I, it was only a matter of time before the call came to our shores to join in and show our alliance with the British Empire.
Weirís film spends a great deal of time setting up these characters before they go off to war. The narrative structure is similar to Stanley Kubrickís Full Metal Jacket, & Paths of Glory in that it spends almost two-thirds of the movie preparing the young men for what they will face in combat, only highlighting to the viewer the greatest loss these men are about to face; the death of their new mates and also their young lives that have barely started. Their courage and blind loyalty to country and each other is overwhelming at times. After spending a great deal of time reading about the Anzacís and having the privilege to converse with a few of them, Weir has captured their legacy perfectly.
Regardless of your stance on Australiaís involvement in that War and our subsequent involvement in Wars that followed, the bravery of these young men should be honoured and never forgotten.
Trials of the lighthorsemen
Unfortunately, the years have not been good to the print used in this transfer. The feature is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and 16:9 enhanced. The print suffers from numerous instances of film artefacts. Ranging from dust & dirt specks, damage to the negative itself, focus uniformity and telecine wobble; sadly the list goes on. Itís a sad state really considering the importance of this film within the history of Australian cinema and of the story itself. I would like to think that somewhere there is a print stacked away that will undergo restoration when struck for a HD transfer in years to come.
It appears we have the same transfer used for the American release of a while back only altered to the required PAL format for here.
The main feature is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is a front heavy soundtrack with the action firmly anchored between the centre & the mains. Surround usage was minimal, only piping up for the battle scenes at the tail end of the film to highlight the shelling of the Turkish machine gun nests, by using some back to front pans. Dialogue was reasonably clear, and the music was somewhat dated by itís fidelity but was clear nonetheless. For a soundtrack that was in mono originally, the remix has come up well with a decent amount of dynamic range. LFE usage was kept to a minimum only required by the score and the shelling sequences.
The extras are surprisingly very slim and just skim over the surface of the making of the film. Sadly there is no commentary by Peter Weir. A Theatrical Trailer can be found on Disc 1 with the feature. The rest of the extras listed below are located on Disc 2.
A Brief interview with director Peter Weir discussing the genesis of the film, and the production; he covers a lot of material in 15 minutes but itís all rushed and edited heavily. Another collection of small grabs from an interview with Mel (11:37) about his involvement in the film and his recollections of talking with the diggers in his research.
An Australian war memorial documentary Boys of the Dardanelles (21.35):; consisting of old newsreel footage & interviews with veterans. This could have been longer, especially when the diggers are recounting their experiences at Gallipoli. Dame Elisabeth Murdoch introduces the history of the Keith Murdoch letter that changed the course of the war in Gallipoli after Keithís letter to Andrew Fisher; then Prime Minister of Australia. The Keith Murdoch letter is reproduced in full here via 49 static pages that can be navigated using the next chapter button on your remote control.
A Photo Gallery: Photos from the making of Gallipoli comprises 30 static pages that can be advanced or let run set to the score of Gallipoli. Finally, some more articles about the campaign that can be navigated using your DVD remote in In depth Gallipoli material:. These articles and more can be accessed via DVD-Rom in PDF form and printed off.
Peter Weir has created a film that has stood the test of time. Never in all my years has a film captured the futility of War, and the mateship that keeps people together during those harrowing times as Gallipoli has done. Featuring a career making role from Mel Gibson, along with great performances from fresh face Mark Lee and a collection of familiar Aussie faces, Gallipoli gets better with each passing year. Peter Weirís direction is beautifully accompanied by a very moving score. A testament to the iconic nature of the filmís score that most of the remembrance pieces about Gallipoli on TV this weekend are accompanied by it.
Itís a shame that the transfer wasnít as good as it could have been along with the extras that just break the surface of the film. However, the extras relating to the Gallipoli campaign itself are numerous and provide a great amount of detail from the times. Still this is a film that deserves to be in everyoneís collection.