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How Useful Is Peter Weir's Film "Gallipoli" In The Study Of Australia's Involvement In Wwi And The Creation Of The Anzac Legend?

2008 words - 8 pages

In 1981, an Australian director, Peter Weir made the film Gallipoli. As the title suggests, this film follows Australia's involvement in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign, focusing on the fictional lives of two young idealistic mates - Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) and Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson) who become best buddies and decide to enlist together for military service when they join the war effort. Despite the fact that the story of these two characters is fictional, Weir's eye for historical accuracy is precise and the events depicted in the film reflects the powerful national legend of Gallipoli and ANZAC day. This film provides insight on the attitudes to the war, enlistment, training, trench warfare and the danger of imminent death.The movie opens off with the scene of Archy training for his hundred yards sprint. "What are your legs? Springs, steel springs. What are they going to do? They're going to hurl me down the track. How fast can you run? As fast as a leopard. How fast are you going to run? As fast as a leopard. Then lets see you do it!" These are the words of motivation used by his Uncle Jack, which you will see used later in the movie.When Archy hears about the outbreak of war, he is excited. Like most Australian men, he is keen to join the army because he deems it as his obligation for the reason that he is physically stronger but also thinks it would be a short war and a great adventure. Other reasons for enlistment were represented in the characters of the railroad workers who desired the approval of young women and the chance to quit their jobs and earn higher wages. Like Archy, they believed it would be a great adventure and did not understand the realities of war.At an athletics race Archy meets Frank who is reluctant to enlist because he does not see it as Australia's war rather England's war and consequently does not see it as his responsibility to fight. Frank represents those Australians of Irish origin who were doubtful of the rightness of the British cause and does not wish to participate in the opportunity to get himself killed. The mixed attitudes that Australians felt regarding the British are exploited effectively by Weir. The most obvious contrast comes from Archy's ignorant patriotism and Frank's cynical pragmatism towards the English.One aspect of the ANZAC legend is the concept of mateship. Visually, it is best summarised when Archy is declined from the enlistment for being underage, and so they embark on an arduous journey across a desert stretch to Perth to illegally enlist there under a counterfeit identity. Weir creates a sense of isolation between Frank, the city slicker, and Archy, the country-boy. While capturing the vast, desolate expanse of desert in a magnificent homage to nature, Weir positions Archy and Frank at extreme opposite ends of the frame. Over time, though, as social barriers are broken down, and the urgency of the situation escalates, the gap between the two closes forging an enduring friendship.On...

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