The disastrous charge at The Nek that took place on August 7, 1915, was actually authorized by an Australian officer, not a British one, as depicted in the film. This is a decision that Peter Weir now regrets, as he acknowledges that the British made just as valiant a contribution to the campaign as the Australians did.
Producers advertised for four hundred skilled male horse riders for the movie, yet only two hundred turned up for shooting. The remaining two hundred horse riders in the movie were women, dressed to look like men.
Although he is seen wearing an AIF uniform, Colonel Robinson is often mistaken for an Englishman, due to his accent, which is in fact a clipped Anglo-Australian accent, typical of the time, and not a deliberate attempt to mislead the audience.
For a great deal of the cast and crew, ANZAC Day - the day in Australia that commemorates the war dead - meant little more than a vacation from school. Working on the film made them realize its true significance.
It took three years for the filmmakers to secure funding. The reason it took so long, was because the Australian government's film agency declined to provide money for it, deeming the film to be "not commercial".
One of the producers was media mogul Rupert Murdoch. His father, Keith, had been a journalist in World War I. He visited Gallipoli briefly in September 1915, and became an influential agitator against how the British top brass had conducted themselves during the battle.
Director Peter Weir was inspired to make the film after visiting a World War I battle site. Originally, he and Screenwriter David Williamson planned to encompass the entire Gallipoli campaign from all sides, but instead, opted to focus on one small group of characters, who would be able to humanize the whole tragedy.
The book that Jack reads to the children early in the film, is Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book." The part he reads discusses the main character Mowgli's passage to manhood, and for the purposes of the film, foreshadows Archie's passage to manhood, as he leaves for the war.
Introducing his song "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" (which is about Gallipoli - look it up on YouTube), Australian singer and songwriter Eric Bogle mentioned that while the battle was at its worst, Australia was considering adopting conscription to meet manpower needs. There was a vote, and the plan was rejected. Soldiers were allowed to vote, and, although it would possibly have reduced their own load and risks, the soldiers at Gallipoli rejected the plan, by double the margin of the civilian vote.
Shortly after Archie and Frank arrive at Gallipoli, they cross through the trenches to try and take what they think is a shortcut to the beach, when the soldier guarding the point informs them it's a shortcut to "the bloody cemetery." The guard is sitting beside a sign that says "Abandon hope past this point." This is a paraphrasing of "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," a famous line from fourteenth century poet Dante Alighieri's poem "Inferno", and the inscription above the gate of Hell as the poet walks through it.
The movie was initially to be made by the South Australian Film Corporation, who were the original team behind the production. However, they withdrew support for the film, over creative differences with the script. However, the movie was still partially filmed in South Australia. The Gallipoli Peninsula was filmed at Port Lincoln, while the market sequence was also filmed in South Australia, at a fish market.