Australians may have wondered who the real enemy was while fighting for the greater glory of the British empire in the early part of this century. Whether using guerrilla tactics against the Boers in South Africa in "Breaker Morant" or engaging the Turks at "Gallipoli," Aussie men at work were required to handle the toughest parts of each campaign, according to these two movies.
In this week's other video, Australian filmmakers seize the mantle of the great American western, now nearly extinct, in "The Man From Snowy River."
Here are three stylish adventure dramas that come from the land down under:
BREAKER MORANT (RCA/Columbia, 1979)
Three Australian calvalrymen are tried for murder by the British Army for executing Boer prisoners and a German clergyman. Edward Woodward ("The Equalizer") gives appealing depth to the title character, appearing equally at ease crooning as a tenor in white tie and tails in a British salon as he does ordering executions of Dutch rebels. He is ably supported by Bryan Brown ("The Thorn Birds") and Jack Thompson (superb as their defense lawyer). A interesting story, aided by fine direction and solid performances.
GALLIPOLI (Paramount, 1981)
Two sprinters join the army together to fight in "the greatest game of all" -- war. Mark Lee gives an innocent romaticism to his character, whereas Mel Gibson's pragmatic character is imbued with a healthy dose of fear, realizing that war games are not all they're cracked up to be. Their differing approaches to life and war makes for interesting dramatic contrast and ultimately bears directly on the fate of each. Especially effective are sights and sounds of battle that are given a surrealistic quality by director Peter Weir. Produced by Robert Stigwood and Rupert Murdoch.
THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER (CBS/Fox, 1982)
After the death of his father, a youth seeks to earn his own place in the closed society of Australian mountain men. Kirk Douglas (in a dual role), Tom Burlinson and Sigrid Thornton (an attractive romantic pair) and understated Jack Thompson headline a uniformly talented cast. But this film's most attractive feature is its beautiful cinematography, most evident in the dramatic chase of the wild horses over mountainous terrain. Directed by George Miller and based on a poem by A.B. ("Banjo") Paterson.