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Breaker Morant (1980)

'Breaker' Morant (original title)
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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(screenplay by), (screenplay by) | 4 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. H.C. Denny (as Charles Tingwell)
Terence Donovan ...
Capt. Simon Hunt
Vincent Ball ...
Col. Ian 'Johnny' Hamilton
...
Sgt. Maj. Drummond
...
Cpl. Sharp
Russell Kiefel ...
Trooper Christiaan Botha
...
Lt. George Ramsdale Witton
Rod Mullinar ...
Major Charles Bolton
Alan Cassell ...
Rob Steele ...
Capt. Donald Robertson
Chris Smith ...
Cameron Sergeant
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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:

They were ordered to "take no prisoners" 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)

Gross:

$7,142,857 (USA)
 »

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

Rod Steiger was the early main contender to play Lieutenant Harry "Breaker" Morant and later, Australian actor Terence Donovan was highly considered and became the favorite for the part. In the original 1978 Melbourne stage production of 'Breaker Morant: A Play in Two Acts', it was actor Terence Donovan who had played Harry 'Breaker' Morant. Donovan had also worked with this film's director Bruce Beresford in the earlier South Australian Film Corporation production Money Movers (1978). However, the lead role eventually went to Callan (1967) actor Edward Woodward due to a desire to have an international star in the leading role. This happened after leading British thesp Alan Bates had declined the part. Terence Donovan was given another part in the film, that of Captain Simon Hunt. See more »

Goofs

The band plays an excerpt from Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow, which premiered three years after the trial took place. See more »

Quotes

Major Thomas: Tell me, Mr. Robertson what was Lt Hancock's reason for putting Boer prisoners on open cattle cars on the trains.
Capt. Robertson: Well the Boers had been mining the lines and blowing up a lot of trains. He thought it might stop them.
Major Thomas: Well did it?
[Robertson looks at the prosecutor]
Major Thomas: Did it?
Capt. Robertson: Yes, but I don't think...
[he's interrupted]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Introducing Lewis Fitz-Gerald as George Witton See more »

Connections

Referenced in 20 to 1: 80's Good, Bad & Ugly (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

The Minstrel Boy
(uncredited)
Traditional - Irish
Written by Thomas Moore
Arranged by Eric Cook and his Orchestra
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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


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