The extraordinary true story of Oliver Woodward. It's 1916 and Woodward must tear himself from his new young love to go to the mud and carnage of the Western Front. Deep beneath the German lines. Woodward and his secret platoon of Australian tunnelers fight to defend a leaking, labyrinthine tunnel system packed with enough high explosives to change the course of the War. Written by
The box that Tiffin makes for Captain Oliver Woodward, as shown in the movie, was the actual box that was made in the trenches during the war. The Woodward family still has this box and gave the cast and crew permission to use it for the film. See more »
The scene where Jim Sneddon is buried by his mates, the grave site, the soil from it, as well as the entire surrounding area, is completely dry despite the depiction of consistent drenching rain for days on
end. See more »
After recently returning from a very moving tour of some of the battlefields of the western front (including Hill 60 itself), I was extremely glad to hear of a film depicting some of the heroics which took place there. Given the enormity of what happened in those years, the events which took place there are undeniably underrecognised. Make no mistake, World War One in film has none of the glory associated with it as so often its sequel. It was a truly awful war, for both sides. Unique in every way, difficult to explain to others, and for all the bloodshed, is difficult to comprehend in modern times. Some of the stories from that period are crying out to be told. This is one of them.
As war had reached the industrial age, the unpredicted stalemate of trench warfare would force either side into unforeseen warfare tactics. This is the story of the 1st Australian Tunneling company's experience in the region around Ieper, Belgium. An extremely rare kind of battle was taking place, underground warfare. Given the place in history Gallipoli has to Australia, one can only wonder why so few of the younger generations of Australians have ever heard of places such as Messines, Passchendaele, Pozieres and Fromelles to name a few. A film which depicts the heroic events of that important chapter of world history should be received with open arms.
And so I am so glad to say that the acting, characterisation and cinematography are very good, as are (to my mind at least) the relative historical accuracy of the script and sets. However this film has one major hurdle in its way of being utterly brilliant. It is of course Australian. By this I mean that doesn't intend to significantly push the envelope or have much of a sharp edge, but to appeal to the masses and not take many risks. To be honest I was surprised to see the occasional cigarette smoking of soldiers given the political correctness of modern Australia. Any realist knows however that the majority of those soldiers were smokers and I am glad they kept modern perceptions second to historical accuracy.
If I was going to be critical (and I will be), it is that this film in one or two moments treads closely to falling into some of the same traps of film-making clichés that belong in 20th century Hollywood. Thankfully the foot that is about to get stuck in this trap is soon lifted out and back on track to being a great film.
I hope many will see it. I also hope Baz Luhrmann learns a thing or two about film-making and the people who funded and plugged his last piece of trash feel humiliated that someone made a slightly better film about Australia's history.
A very moving film. Congratulations to the cast and crew.
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