Paramount/1981/111/ANA 2.35

      You expect nothing less than a very fine anti-war drama from a director with Peter Weirís credentials and Gallipoli delivers all the power and explosiveness that the best films of the genre contain.
     Set during 1915 World War I, Weirís story begins in the Australian provinces where raw power rules the day.  Young and innocent Archy is great sprinter trained by his martial uncle. The sunrise training sequences, quick and short just like a sprint, are stirring. They manage to say a lot about the characters in a few brief moments. At a local race Archy meets Frank, a free-spirited runner without Archyís discipline. The two runners bond and itís no surprise when the fast (sic) friends join the armed forces to fight for mother Australia far, far away from home.

The sweep of war in Gallipoli. ©Paramount

     The bravado nature of the home front scenes sets up a devastating contrast with the harsh reality of the battle for control of the Dardanelles Straits. The Australian-New Zealand Force is charged with taking the beachhead from the seasoned Turks. The high command is insensitive to reports from the trenches. Much like the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade at the end of the nineteenth century, the soldiers from Down Under are sacrificed to the folly of their superiors. 
     Director Peter Weirís sense of composition is magnificent. His films are consistently haunting. The camera places his well-developed characters in a superbly realized world. Weirís sense of timing is fine tuned to illicit the most from each segment of film. DP Russell Boyd paints the landscapes with panoramic power delivering everything his director asks of him. 
     Mark Lee is very effective as Archy, but itís Gibson as Frank that the camera canít keep its eyes off. Once again viewers are reminded of the young Gibsonís center of gravity as an actor. The jokey delivery is kept at bay and Gibsonís charm dominates the screen. The small roles, as in every Weir film, are beautifully cast and effectively assayed. 
Gallipoli is a very good DVD. The stylistic grain of the film is transferred and compressed with finesse. The picture dynamics are slightly compressed but overall thereís plenty of light output and the color intensity holds up reasonably well. The Dolby Digital 5:! Surround might have offered more from the explosiveness of war, but the music and dialogue is presented with clarity and power. The anamorphic transfer may not be as sharp as Lost in Space or some other effects laden film, but the content is well enough supported by the image to make this DVD a worthwhile purchase. A short filmed interview with Peter Weir is a nice addition to understanding the film.





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