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Gallipoli Reviews

Focusing on two fleet-footed young Australians, Peter Weir's extraordinarily moving antiwar film examines the disastrous WWI invasion of Gallipoli by the Australian-New Zealand Army Corps. Archy (Mark Lee) and Frank (Mel Gibson) come from different backgrounds, but they share a love of king, country and life--never more apparent than when the two sprinters race each other. Together, they join the army and become part of the ill-fated campaign to wrest control of the Dardanelles from the Ottoman Turks. Meeting heavy resistance from the well-entrenched Turks and their German allies, the ANZAC offensive bogs down on the beachhead. Poor generalship and worse communication eventually lead to a suicidal assault and a tremendous waste of young lives. Director Weir (PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY) and cinematographer Russell Boyd's re-creation of the invasion and battle action is stunning, but what makes GALLIPOLI such an affecting film is its intimate presentation of the friendship between Archy and Frank (wonderfully essayed by Lee and Gibson). Weir uses the first part of the film to establish the vibrant optimism of their lives down under, then he demonstrates how quickly and pointlessly such young lives can be snuffed out. Not always easy to watch, GALLIPOLI is both a fitting testimony to the courage of the thousands of Australians and New Zealanders who died fighting for their country and one of the most powerful cinematic examinations of the futility and tragic cost of war.