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Breaker Morant (1980)

'Breaker' Morant (original title)
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Three Australian lieutenants are court martialed for executing prisoners as a way of deflecting attention from war crimes committed by their superior officers.

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(play), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Capt. Alfred Taylor
...
...
Lt. Col. Denny (as Charles Tingwell)
Terence Donovan ...
Capt. Simon Hunt
Vincent Ball ...
Col. Ian 'Johnny' Hamilton
Ray Meagher ...
Sgt. Maj. Drummond
...
Cpl. Sharp
Russell Kiefel ...
Christiaan Botha
...
Lt. George Ramsdale Witton
Rod Mullinar ...
Maj. Charles Bolton
Alan Cassell ...
Rob Steele ...
Capt. Robertson
Chris Smith ...
Sgt. Cameron
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Storyline

During the Boer War, three Australian lieutenants are on trial for shooting Boer prisoners. Though they acted under orders, they are being used as scapegoats by the General Staff, who hopes to distance themselves from the irregular practices of the war. The trial does not progress as smoothly as expected by the General Staff, as the defence puts up a strong fight in the courtroom. Written by Kasper Sevaj <kaspsev@dorit.ihi.ku.dk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A powerful true story of bitter revenge... See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

3 July 1980 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Breaker Morant  »

Box Office

Budget:

AUD 650,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Around the time just before this film was theatrically released in Australia, publisher Angus & Robertson republished a then little heard of unknown and previously out-of-print book about Harry Morant entitled 'The Breaker'. This book had been written by Kit Denton and had been first published in 1973. The dust jacked of this re-issue announced: "Soon to be made into a major film". As this film was not an adaptation of this book, this published statement was incorrect as no part of the book was used for the film. Playwright and scriptwriter Kenneth G. Ross took Angus & Robertson to court in the Supreme Court of South Australia for re-publishing the book with the incorrect statement. Director Bruce Beresford provided critical valuable evidence as a witness. Ross won the court case and the publisher withdrew the offending edition and pulped all the remaining copies. However, Angus & Robertson published a new edition of the book without the false blurb but instead ran a photo of the film's star, Edward Woodward, on the new front cover! In an interview article with Kit Denton, "Breaker Morant: Hero or Ruthless Killer", by B. Renfrew in 'The Gainesville Sun' on 24 June 1984, Denton declared that both his earlier draft screenplay and his later novel were "not involved with the film". It is still often confused as to which of these two texts, the play and the book, that this film is based on. In a 26 February 2002 article "The truth about Harry" by 'Kenneth G Ross', Ross stated that Kit Denton's book, 'The Breaker', also kicked things along" [in terms of public awareness relating to Harry Morant and the Bushveldt Carbiners]. See more »

Goofs

During the Morant trial, a military band is heard playing Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1." The march was premiered in England in October 1901, and it is very unlikely that an arrangement for military band was available less than two months later when the trial took place. It wasn't until later in 1902 that the words "Land of Hope and Glory" became permanently wedded to the tune. See more »

Quotes

George Wittow: [Saying his goodbyes to Morant and Handcock] Harry! Peter!
Peter Handcock: See you in hell, mate!
Harry Morant: [Gripping George's hand] Goodbye, George.
George Wittow: [Sobbing] Why did they do this to us, Harry? Why?
Harry Morant: They have to apologize for their damned war. They're trying to end it now, so they need scapegoats.
George Wittow: [Being dragged away by prison guards] HARRY! PETER!
Harry Morant: George! We're scapegoats to the bloody empire!
George Wittow: [Being led past the soldiers preparing their rifles for Morant and Handcock's firing squad] Jesus...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Introducing Lewis Fitz-Gerald as George Witton See more »

Connections

Featured in What a Year: 1980 (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Cock of the North
Traditional - Irish
Arranged by Bill Brown
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Intelligent Drama About Military Morality
28 October 2003 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

We don't see very many films or dramas on the history channel here in Britain . I know the American version shows them because American reviewers have mentioned this on this very website , but I'm not very keen on this happening over here because before you know it we might be seeing THE GREEN BERETS , BRAVEHEART and WE WERE SOLDIERS appearing on the channel , poor movies and poor history to boot in my opinion . At the weekend we were treated to BREAKER MORANT . As I said I'm not keen on the history channel transmitting feature films but I'll forgive them this time because it's a very good movie and very good history .

BREAKER MORANT is the dramatisation of a real life incident during the Boer war , the first " dirty war " of the 20th century , where three Australian officers Harry Morant , John Handcock and George Witton are on trial for their lives for the murder of boer POWs and of a German missionary . What I love about this film is that unlike a lot of other movies with an anti-war / anti- military injustice agenda is that it shows the difficult situations soldiers will always find themselves in . The men on trial are victims , victims of politics and of a wider picture . With the killing of the missionary Germany wants to intervene in the conflict on the side of the boers , not to protect the noble South African farmers from British aggression but to get their hands on the region's gold and diamond mines . In order to stop this happening the British government needs scapegoats in order to hang and Morant , Witton and Handcock were to be hung out to dry so it's the politicians of the time who are to blame for this miscarriage of justice , not the military , and it'd be interesting to note what people who campaign for pardons for the British soldiers shot for " cowardice " during the first world war make of this tale . The three characters on trial here are victims of a grave injustice but you can't help feeling because they " were only obeying orders " sympathy for them will be in short supply from a modern day perspective . I'm probably correct in saying that anyone who's served in the military can see far more clearly the injustice done than any of the " professional anti-war brigade " . BREAKER MORANT isn't a movie than can be used for anyone's hidden agenda , and for that we should be grateful

It's fairly obvious BREAKER MORANT is based upon a stage play . The central setting is a military court room with much of the story told in flashback . Director Bruce Beresford handles the action scenes very well but in this type of story the most important aspect is the cast and their acting , and the director gets the best out of his cast especially Edward Woodward ( Normally an actor I don't like ) who gives a career best performance and Jack Thompson . My only criticism of the casting is that a couple of actors playing British characters let their Aussie accents slip a little , but I'm nitpicking .

Just to sum up this is a very intelligent story of a dirty war , dirty politics and dirty justice which will appeal to serious historians and former servicemen rather than professional pacifists


29 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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