Gallipoli (1981)


Synopsis – Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I – Gallipoli

Director – Peter Weir

Starring: Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr

Genre: Historical/War/Drama

Released: 1981

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you like – 1917, Dunkirk, A Bridge Too Far

Gallipoli is one of those rare war movies in which the war is almost secondary to the plot, with a coming of age and the bond between friends feeling more like the centrepiece. This is a film that focuses on the human spirit during a nearly forgotten battle for anyone other than the Australians and is made up of relatively unknown actors at the time. It would have been so easy for Gallipoli to have been a flop, but instead what Weir produced is something that not only reminds you about the sense of pride the young men felt when joining up for their country but also forces you to realise the futility of war.

The landing at Gallipoli by joint British-Australian forces is the inevitable destination of the two main characters Archy (Lee) and Frank (Gibson), with the two Australians’ tale being split into distinct acts. Making their way to Perth to enlist, Army Training in Egypt, and the gruelling Battle of Gallipoli. All three of these are well-written and equally well-acted.


Despite not being the centre of the film until the final act, once we arrive at the Battle of Gallipoli is both hauntingly realistic and harrowing, which I would say is mostly down to Weir’s choice to hold nothing back in the battle sequences and still looming large in the scenes that take place away from the front line. Another aspect that makes the battle scenes work is the acting and the musical score building up the emotion before, during and after the blood, gore, and violence, finishing up with a tension-filled final 10 minutes of racing against the clock.

At just 25, Gibson was just cutting his teeth in the film industry at this point, but between this film and Mad Max, you could tell he was going to be the star he is today. His develops from someone who never wanted to go to war and as he along with his friends loses their innocence about the reality of war, to eventually becomes the person everything comes down to. But despite Gibson’s strong performance and clear star quality, it’s his co-star Mark Lee playing Archy that steals the show, and it’s a shame that he wasn’t able to follow it up with further great performances.

Mel Gibson and Mark Lee in Gallipoli (1981)

Gallipoli is a terrific film even after all this time and remains one of Peter Weir’s masterpieces, packed full of wonderful acting, beautiful shots and war scenes that leave a lasting memory long after you’ve watched the film.



  1. I am glad to see a fellow movie lover. People hardly watch these retro films. These films are great treasures to enjoy.

  2. I need to check this one out. I’ve never even heard of it before. It sounds like a good one.

  3. This is the first time for me to hear about this movie, it looks interesting and a good one to watch. I will check this out!

  4. This looks like a nice and interesting old retro film to watch. Will absolutely check this out.

  5. hm Gallipoli – I have never heard and never watched this film, but I will add it to my list 🙂

  6. I am looking for an old film like this. Gonna give this a try. It looks something I which I love.

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