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Reviews & Ratings for
Balibo More at IMDbPro »

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37 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Beautifully done.

Author: ken_westmoreland from UK
12 July 2009

As someone with a long-standing interest in the history of East Timor, I had mixed feelings about this film, and how the people and events would be depicted. However, Robert Connolly did a great job, considering all of the constraints of a limited budget that he had. It did not go into minute detail about the historical events, but nor did it dumb down and sex up.

What happened to the Balibo Five and Roger East is only a very small fraction of the story of what happened in East Timor in 1975, and there will be accusations that the deaths of half a dozen Westerners are given more prominence than what happened to a far greater number of East Timorese. However, the East Timorese actors in the film, none of whom were professional actors, were tremendous - not least as they were reenacting events that they and their families were familiar with.

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30 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

The best non-comedy Australian Film I have seen

Author: uncledoza from New Zealand
2 August 2009

Born a decade on from the events depicted in this film I new little of the story of the occupation and take over of then Portuguese Timor , even though I was avid History student in school. By the end of this film my eyes were well an truly open.

This movie left with so many conflicting emotions. Angered with brutality and senselessness of human violence and cold cruelty towards other beings, mixed with the marvel of a truly well told film. Brilliant acting, with a pace that never seems to linger despite the seriousness of the topic.

Truly worth the price of admission

Justice for the Balibo 5.

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19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Excellent film

Author: patlightfoot from Australia
16 December 2009

Beside being a fan of Anthony Lapaglia I think he is a very under rated actor. But he won the Best Actor at the AFI awards last Saturday. And I believe he had to relearn his Australian accent having spent so many years in the US of A. From a historical point of view I remember the year but had no idea Roger East was involved in the search for the five missing journalists.

But I do remember that Australia was viewing Indonesia with a wary eye. They had a well equipped Army and Whitlam had just been elected as PM. And we had just pulled out of Vietnam. And the Fetilin were considered communists (like the North Vietnamese) hence I believe Australia's lack of support for them.

I recall one military expert warning us, Indonesia could prove a threat to Australia one day? Timor is only about 70 miles, I believe from Australia's Northern coast line.

However, the film being set in East Timor was very well put together and edited. Considering it was on a strict budget, and the environment they were filming in is still a sensitive part of the world. Since the film was screened one Indonesian man has stepped forward to say he was there and executed the Bilabo five under orders (of course!) although his account has been refuted (of course!) by the 'powers that be' in Indonesia.

Now they have banned it seems to suggest they don't like it and I wonder why? Possibly because with the Muslim terrorists active in the area could drive them to more acts of violence against Australia.

However, cinematography, music and also the script certainly should commend it to serious film buffs. I found the accents of some of the East Timorese when speaking English, sometimes hard to understand, but that might be just me of course. I don't consider it a spoiler though.

I hope it gets nominated for the Academy Awards certainly Anthony's acting deserves some recognition. Well done all those East Timorese who stood in to take on their roles when those events and subsequent atrocities are still fresh in the older generation's minds.

I hired it on DVD by the way in Australia.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

This is a Story of Unrevealed in Indonesia

Author: sofandre-syabanu from Indonesia
1 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am a Indonesian and this movie shows up cruelty within Soeharto (president) and Tentara Nasional Indonesia (army). I am so shame that a story which is revealed so sadly. But it is a nice movie and thank you for the director that makes it so honest.

For the rest comment, I would like to encourage all Indonesians to watch this movie. Because somehow you have to learned that maybe this is the real and truth histories, since Soeharto makes us foolish with "fake" histories. I hope with this movie the peace will spread to all nations.

What can I say for more, this is a great and hilarious movie.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Good Political drama about Indonesian invasion of East Timor

Author: paul david from United Kingdom
1 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a very objective and intelligent film about the Indonesian invasion of East Timor AND five Australian journalists efforts to try and tell the story. It is beautifully filmed and bravo to the amateur local actors used in the film.

No answers are given why foreign help was not forthcoming and why Indonesia invaded at all.

Balibo is a place in East Timor where terrible tortures of locals happened and where the five journalists went in search of the story.

this is a war film in the cast of Tunnels Rats and Killing Fields, produced on a budget quite clearly. I live in Indonesia and I found it enlightening if not completely informative.

the film needed to be careful not to focus on the ultimate death of the journalists balanced against the death of the many local timorese.

Nothing bad about this film, though those in the know yes will criticise the technical issues of the film such as wrong guns etc but remember again budget movie!

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Good but obviously edited down

Author: team-26 from United Kingdom
30 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the tradition of The Killing Fields, this is a very good film bringing atrocities and the silent complicity of Western governments in those atrocities to a wider audience. Students of writers such as John Pilger will be aware of what happened after the Indonesians invaded East Timor in 1975, and how after the invasion the Australian government did nothing other than to take a stake in the oil and gas reserves around the island. Anthony La Paglia plays the central role of journalist Roger East who goes to East Timor to investigate the disappearance of five journalists who have preceded him there to report on the impending Indonesian invasion. The fate of the five is pretty obvious from the start but we are drawn in to joining East in his quest to find out the 'how' and the 'when' if not 'what' befell them.

We are not given much explanation of what East has been through before to make him state halfway through the film that he cannot carry on and wants to return home to Australia nor into what makes him undergo a complete volte face in the last twenty minutes and take the insane risk of staying in the face of a brutal Indonesian invasion. This is a weak point of the film that might well be explained in a longer director's cut. That being said, there is a slow section in the middle showing how East gets through the jungle back from Balibo to Dilli that could have usefully been trimmed or cut altogether.

For all those criticisms this is an absorbing and thoughtful account of what went on in a little-known part of the world under the noses of the West (which did nothing to stop a massacre). La Paglia's performance is never less than solid, and Walter Isaacs clearly has a great future ahead of him. If it falls a little short of being a great film this is still one that is worth the price of admission.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Balibo: Tense East Timor Testament

Author: kevin-rennie from Australia
17 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Robert Connolly's Balibo is a compelling political thriller. It "is a true story" based on Jill Jolliffe's book, Cover-Up.

It is in fact four stories:

* The story of five Australian journalists who were murdered at Balibo by the Indonesian forces that invaded East Timor in 1975.

* Of Roger East, an Australian journalist who sought the truth about their deaths.

* Of Juliana who testifies as an adult to her experiences in Dili as an eight year old.

* Of the spirit of the East Timorese people as embodied in their current President José Ramos Horta.

Connolly and playwright David Williamson have constructed a script that has avoided potential pitfalls associated with layers of flashbacks. At times the pace faltered as the context or the suspense was being established.

There is little attempt to present detailed characterisations of the Balibo 5. Damon Gameau as Greg Shackleton is the focus of the group. His re-enactment of Shackleton's famous TV report from the frontline is impressive. You can compare the two on the website. The rivalry between the Channel 9 and Channel 7 crews continues today, though in a less friendly way.

Anthony LaPaglia gives a very convincing performance as Roger East. He has enough weight both figuratively and literally to carry off the role of a seedy, disillusioned journo.

Oscar Isaac manages the difficult job of the young José Ramos Horta. Fortunately he does not try imitating this distinctive and well-known personality.

Gyton Grantley (Gary Cunningham), Nathan Phillips (Malcolm Rennie), Mark Winter (Tony Stewart) and Thomas Wright (Brian Peters) show the depth of Australian acting talent. As does Simon Stone as ABC journalist Tony Maniaty.

The East Timorese cast are exceptional. Anamaria Barreto meets the high expectations of child actors these days as young Juliana. Her parents are Timorese and she lives in Darwin. Bea Viegas gives an intense, moving portrayal of the adult Juliana. Osme Gonsalves also impresses as Ximenes, a Fretlin soldier. It is difficult to find out the names of many of the actors as they are not listed on the website or IMDb.

The film raises many questions about the political responsibility for what happened and the need for justice to be done. This is a dark part of both Indonesian and Australian history. It does not attempt any definitive answers. That would be another movie. The historical background is analysed in depth and can be accessed through the official website.

Balibo works very effectively as both a political statement and a personal drama.

See it!

Cinema Takes:

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10 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Historically inaccurate.

Author: Oscar Utomo from United Kingdom
13 May 2012

This movie is historically inaccurate and over exaggerated. Some facts about the real historical events:

-The journalist Roger East was never cajoled out of his public service job by the young Fretilin foreign spokesman Jose Ramos Horta to work in East Timor, and nor did Ramos-Horta hand him an AUSTEO (Australian Eyes Only) dossier on the Balibo Five

-East and Ramos-Horta never trekked on foot to Balibo, and nor were they attacked by a US helicopter along the way.

-The Indonesians didn't attack up the hill in front of the Balibo fort, but from around the back of the village.

-The senior commander of the Balibo operation for the Indonesian army, Colonel Dading Kalbuadi, didn't put a pistol to the head of the journalist Brian Peters and shoot him dead. He was 10 km away at the time.

-East wasn't captured trying to send his last report from Dili's Marconi radio office.

-And it's unlikely that General Benny Murdani, the Indonesian army intelligence chief, was observing the executions of East and Timorese people on the Dili wharf on 8 December, dressed in a white safari suit, though he did parachute into Dili some time that day.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

OK, but not great

Author: grantss from Sydney, Australia
13 February 2016

OK, but not great. Powerful subject, handled with the right degree of respect and gravity. Yet, it is missing something to make it truly interesting. Seems to drag, particularly in the early and middle stages, and, in some ways, feel like a documentary.

Robert Connolly's direction often leaves a lot to be desired: odd/bad camera angles, unsteady tracking shots.

Decent performances though, especially by Anthony LaPaglia as Roger East and Oscar Isaac as Jose Ramos-Horta.

Worth watching for educational purposes, and to show the depths to which humans will sink, but don't watch it hoping for a great drama.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Great movies but not really accurate

Author: Nicholas Sampurna from Indonesia
22 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Greetings ,im from Indonesia

This film maybe speak the truth of the real events on Balibo 75, the version of truth by the Western people (including Australians of course) and pro-Fretilin people,like Jose Ramos Horta. But it totally different with our version (Hey,Im from Indonesia) ,we believe that 5 Australians journalist died because their hideout place was burned by some explosive (maybe some mortar or grenade) during 4 hours war in Balibo near the Chinese house. We didn't yet know what actually happens there.. And the other truth. Yes,our troop (Indonesian) invade that country with the authorization of the US Government,including US President (Who left Indonesia 2 days before the invasion begin). US Government also send us lot of modern military stuff for invade East Timor (Such as OV10 Bronco, Bell 205 and 412). And Roger East also being executed and they dispose his body to the ocean..Im sorry but lot of Indonesian people still believe that Roger East being executed by Fretilin because he know some secret in Balibo that make Fretilin kill him.

Well..this maybe some other version of the international version stories

And I watch this film and it have a little thing that irritating me. I think the Director of the Balibo (Mr.Robert Connoly) less accurate for the detail of the real Indonesian soldier equipment during that times. The first, It didn't shows any M16A1 carried by Indonesian troops (Lot of them just carry AK47 / Type 56 and some bring G3) ,Indonesian troops use a lot of M16A1 during that war,and also Ak / RPK. the second , we using Bell Huey for transport the troops,not a Gunship. We already have the brand new Bo105 with FFAR rockets and mini gun, for the gunship choppers when in East Timor during that period. and last , HEY! We are not a fictional country in South America movies, we didn't use any DC3 / C47 again since West Papua war over. Indonesian airborne troop using the modern of C130 Hercules during the invasion, and the similar plane of DC3 only The Gunship AC47 for supporting fire.

otherwise. Balibo still a great movies. Recommended for a people who love to watch some real event of political thriller movies

- Still Looking for the truth of the event..

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