Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mark Lee, Mel Gibson, Bill Kerr, Harold Hopkins, Charles Yunupingu, Ron Graham, Gerda Nicolson, Robert Grubb
Written by: David Williamson, based on a story by Peter Weir
Directed by: Peter Weir
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 110
Date: 08/28/1981

Gallipoli (1981)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Battle Tax

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Australian director Peter Weir has made a career of masculine films about characters at odds with their environments, and Gallipoli (1981) is one of the finest examples of his vision. Archy (Mark Lee) is a promising sprinter, capable of breaking records. Upright and dedicated, he meets another sprinter, the roguish Frank (Mel Gibson), and they become fast friends. But when the first World War approaches, Archy feels the call of duty. Weir's excellent outdoor cinematography at first emphasizes freedom, speed, and friendship, before slowly changing direction. Early in the film, the friends survive a walk across the baking desert near Perth, using knowledge of their own land. But at the ill-fated Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey, the landscape is uncertain, constricting, and deadly. Gibson's star power was already evident, and he and Weir teamed up again the following year for The Year of Living Dangerously.

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