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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:
...
...
...
...
...
Lt. Col. H.C. Denny (as Charles Tingwell)
Terence Donovan ...
Capt. Simon Hunt
Vincent Ball ...
Col. Ian 'Johnny' Hamilton
...
...
Russell Kiefel ...
Trooper Christiaan Botha
...
Rod Mullinar ...
Alan Cassell ...
Rob Steele ...
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:

When they speak of heroes - of villains - of men who look for action, who choose between honor and revenge - they tell the story of Breaker Morant 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  »

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Box Office

Budget:

AUD 650,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,142,857
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer Robert Bruning left the production in February 1979 due to creative differences. His component was bought out by the South Australian Film Corporation. See more »

Goofs

In the film the defendants are allowed to gather in a common room until lights out to socialize and meet with their lawyer and other visitors. In reality there were six defendants in total, including Captain Taylor, who were held in strict solitary confinement from their arrest through sentencing and were not allowed to communicate with each other at all. See more »

Quotes

Sentry: [to Major Thomas] Excuse me, sir. I was in a public house last night, sir.
Major Thomas: We're you, Sergeant?
Sentry: Yes, sir. I overheard one of the witnesses talking about the prisoners. In his cups he was, sir. A very indescreet gentleman.
Major Thomas: [later in court, questioning Corporal Sharp] Have you not been saying in the local pubs that you would walk barefoot from Cape Town to Petersburg to be on a firing party to shoot Lieutenant Handcock?
Corporal Sharp: [visibly shaken] Well, sir I might have said something like that over a pint, ...
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Crazy Credits

Introducing Lewis Fitz-Gerald as George Witton See more »


Soundtracks

March in Scipio
(uncredited)
Written by George Frideric Handel
Arranged by Jack Grimsley
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Superb wartime courtroom drama
4 May 2003 | by 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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