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Breaker Morant (1980)
"'Breaker' Morant" (original title)

PG  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  3 July 1980 (Australia)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 9,718 users  
Reviews: 89 user | 31 critic

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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Title: Breaker Morant (1980)

Breaker Morant (1980) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Capt. Alfred Taylor
...
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell ...
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
Lewis Fitz-Gerald ...
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:

"If you encounter any Boers, you really must not loot 'em and if you wish to leave these shores, for pity's sake don't shoot 'em." "THE BREAKER" 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
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The ballad played by the British Military Band was 'Soldiers of the Queen' by Leslie Stuart. The song is also known as 'Soldiers of the King', depending on the current gender of the reigning monarch. During the era that this film is set, Queen Victoria had just died and King Edward VII had become the British monarch. The ballad features as this film's theme music. Edward Woodward sings the song during the closing credits. 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

Sentry: Do you want the padre?
Harry Morant: No, thank you. I'm a pagan.
Sentry: And you?
Peter Handcock: What's a pagan?
Harry Morant: Well... it's somebody who doesn't believe there's a divine being dispensing justice to mankind.
Peter Handcock: I'm a pagan, too.
Harry Morant: There is an epitaph I'd like: Matthew 10:36. Well, Peter... this is what comes of 'empire building.'
Major Thomas: Matthew 10:36?
Minister: "And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."
See more »

Crazy Credits

Introducing Lewis Fitz-Gerald as George Witton See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rod Taylor: Return to Oz (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Sarie Marais
Traditional - Afrikaans
Written by Albert Diggenhof and Josef Marais
Arranged by Eric Cook and his Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Superb wartime courtroom drama
4 May 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)

The question raised in this film is the same as that raised in the Nuremberg trials following World War II and at the trial of Lt. William Calley during the Vietnam War, namely should a soldier be punished for following orders?

The answer to that question depends not only on what the orders were--that is, were they legitimate orders consistent with the "rules of war"--but also on who is asking the question and why they are asking it. After WWII the Allies asked the question and the reason they asked it was because so many people were horrified by Nazi atrocities and wanted someone to punish. If the Axis powers had somehow won the war they might have tried US President Harry S Truman and others for the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities, or indeed for the fire bombings of Dresden. In Vietnam we asked the question of ourselves during the war because our government and military were being accused both at home and abroad of waging a unjustified war and going against our own value system.

Here the story goes back to the Boer War a hundred years ago in South Africa, as the British command for political reasons puts Lt. Breaker Morant, an Australian soldier fighting with the British forces, and two of his fellow Bushveldt Carbineers on trial for shooting Boer prisoners. Their defense is the same as the Nazi soldiers and that of Lt. Calley: they were just following orders.

The superb direction by Bruce Beresford (from the play by Kenneth Ross) makes us identify with Morant (Edward Woodward), Lt. Peter Handcock (Bryan Brown) and the third soldier because we can see that the horrors of war pervert the usual logic of right and wrong so completely that we can appreciate what drove them to do what they did. Jack Thompson, playing defense attorney Major J. F. Thomas, expresses this when he tells the court that war changes us and that therefore the usual rules of conduct no longer apply. Incidentally this film is based on actual events.

Regardless of which side of this very vexing question you come down on, I can promise you will enjoy this outstanding film, winner of 10 Australian Film Institute Awards. In the annuals of war films and courtroom dramas this ranks with the best of them.


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