Following the lives of a dozen Australian soldiers who served in the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I which follows them from the 1915 battle of Galipoli, to ...
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Feature-length drama about the mystery of Sandringham Company, which disappeared in action at Gallipoli in 1915. Commanded by Captain Frank Beck, their estate manager, the men advanced into... See full summary »
Following the lives of a dozen Australian soldiers who served in the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I which follows them from the 1915 battle of Galipoli, to the brutal trenches of France during the 1916 Somme battles, the 1917 Arias and Vimy Ridge battles to the final 1918 German offensives and the final victory drive as well as the hardships, mid-adventures and the casualties of friends encounted at each one. Written by
I must premise this review by saying that I was only able to watch the abbreviated video version of Anzacs, which was released in North America. This is a seriously truncated version of the mini-series, and it shows. My suspicion is that all anyone who see's this version is being shortchanged, certainly I felt so and I don't feel it's fair to try to review the series adequately based on a chopped up version.
Therefore, I'll restrict my comments to the premise of the film, and what I could observe of the acting and production. First, the premise. The story of the Anzac's in the First World War is one of the great stories, and tragedies, of that dreadful conflict. Enthusiastic, if only partially trained, the Anzac's were first commited to the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey, an event which matched or exceeded any carnage seen on the Western front. Commanded by British generals whose incompetence exceeded even that of Douglas Haig and his crony's, they were slaughtered in their thousands fighting a useless and ill lead campaign. The Anzac's eventually were forced to surrender their hard won slivers of Turkish soil when the campaign was abandoned. Subsequently sent to the Western Front, they were placed under the command of 'Butcher' Haig and his merry men, where such joys as Paschendale and other acts of carnage ensued. Despite their repeated abuses at the hands of British idiots, the Anzac's gained a reputation as hard and skilled fighters, showing innovation and courage in a war marked mainly by incompetence and slaughter.
Alas, the video version of the movie captures little of the true story of the Anzac's, focussing instead on the quite weak stories of the characters. A tepid love story between nurse and a soldier ensues, various secondary characters die, and most gratingly, Paul Hogan does his interpretation of a WW1 Sgt. Bilko. The combat scenes are poorly portrayed, and little is done to even try to capture the true horror experienced by the Anzac's in both Gallipoli or France.
On the positive side, some effort is made to capture the utter incompetence of the British generals commanding the Anzac's, and there is a recognition in the film of the tragedy of superb soldier's lives being utterly wasted in utterly useless assaults. If more emphasis has been placed on this and the actions of the soldier's in the trenches, it is possible that a very gripping story might have ensued.
Overall, I think that the series would probably be worth seeing, as it does deal with a part of history that has been ignored for too long. It must be remembered that this mini-series is now over 15 years old, and the production values reflect that era. North American audiences should avoid the truncated video, as it does little justice to the subject.
7 out of 10, in acknowledgement of an attempt to honor brave men sacrificed needlessly.
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