Mel Gibson hates Turks too.
When I say that I watched an Australian war movie, the same question always gets asked; When was Australia in a war? Sarcasm aside, I know little about the Australian's participation during World War I and, to be fair, I know little about Australia. Gallipoli is an interesting look at both rural Australian life during the early 1900's and a interesting look at how war effects and changes people. It's not quite accurate to call Gallipoli a war movie, but, whatever you end up calling it, it's a pretty decent effort.
Two Australian sprinters, one of whom is played by a dashing young Mel Gibson, go off to war for their country. They frolic naked in the ocean, deface one of the seven wonders of the world and get the clap. Other than Mel Gibson, the cast is full of no-names. The director on the other hand, Peter Weir, has had quite a bit of success in recent years. He may not be the busiest director in the world, but he does well for himself. Gallipoli was a big success in Australia, but had a harder time in America. Even though the film is generally well received, it's safe to say it's not on the average moviegoers radar. That's not saying much since most moviegoers couldn't name more than one movie made in Australia.
If there's a problem with Gallipoli, it's that the movie isn't very exciting. I don't require constant action, but the war segment of this movie seems kind of like an afterthought. No, the movie isn't necessarily about the war, but that doesn't change the fact my expectations weren't quite met. While the pre-war character development is pretty solid, made better by some admirably performances by the entire cast, there is something slightly off about our two main characters. I don't quite buy into them becoming best friends. Once they are, they play off each other well, but I never got the moment where they suddenly became inseparable. Where Gallipoli really succeeds is in executing it's themes; especially the themes of wasted potential. I'm a sucker for a good ending and, Gallipoli definitely kicks you in the face. Historical inaccuracies aside, the movie works and the ending is really heart breaking.
While I am no expert in Australian cinema, I have liked the movies I have seen from the land down under. Gallipoli isn't the worlds best war movie, but it is an effective one. At the very least, it offers a change of pace from the American or European centric war movies that people tend to see. It wasn't called World War I for nothing and it would probably be good for people to remember that nearly every country was involved in the war. The novelty of seeing a young Mel Gibson naked might be enough for a lot of people to watch the movie, but it's not the only reason to give Gallipoli a chance.