When an allied charge on the German lines goes horribly wrong, one man finds himself stranded in No Man's Land. Reuniting with two other survivors, together they must help each other as they charge into the unknown across the muddy wasteland as the Germans quickly hone in on the desperate trio. Tensions rise between the soldiers as they are surrounded by explosions of grenades with the constant rattle of machine guns in their ears. Time is running out as they make their way back over enemy lines as an impending attack could soon take them out. Written by
Originally the film ended after the prison sequence. Test audiences felt the ending was too bleak, so the filmmakers went back six months later and shot the additional "home" scene that caps the film. Directors Johan Earl and Adrian Powers have said that if they had a director's cut, they would return to the original ending. See more »
During the trench scene prior to going over the top, there is a modern pallet stood in the trench - this type was only made after the 1950's and much more commonly from the 1970's. See more »
Forbidden Ground is an Australian-made rendition of the plight of British soldiers trapped in no-man's land, and should have been the war epic it was (once) anticipated to be. The unfortunate truth is that it falls short of all expectations, and as a patriotic Australian I take no pleasure in saying it.
From the first moments the small budget is apparent. Close-ups try and disguise the limited scale of the production. The battles in the film are all no more than small skirmishes and never really produced with any flair, impact, or suspense. The constant reliance on CGI for special effects cripples the action, unlike it's predecessor Beneath Hill 60 - which it will surely be compared to - which used mostly practical visual effects and captures gritty violence effectively. As such, when the horror of trench warfare comes along in this film, it is woefully un- engaging, and downright boring in parts. I felt no connection with the men going to their deaths. The obvious computer-generated explosions and squibs left a lot to be desired and had no "punch." It's an anti-war film, as most WWI films are, so you would expect a focus on correctly portraying the shocking waste of war, but Forbidden Ground lacks the budget or know-how to do it properly.
There are some tired clichés including snobby, arrogant officers and the hard-nosed NCO, and while historically accurate in some ways, Forbidden Ground doesn't cast the roles with conviction, simply recycling scenes and minor characters from a dozen better war films. The other problem with authenticity is that most of the cast is Australian, and while our accents may be more or less similar and we often are mistaken for Poms, the actors on show here can't quite make it sound natural and every line feels laborious and forced. If they'd just spoken with their normal accents they would probably have sounded more comfortable with their characters, but alas every Pommy soldier on screen sounds like a caricature of British stereotypes.
Another problem with authenticity is that the unit that is focused on seems to be an amalgamation of British accents. Whether intentional or by accident, units were formed from specific locales (universities, rugby clubs, towns, cities, etc) and would only occasionally be mixed with troops from broadly different locations (casualty replacements).
So the end result is a disappointing straight-to-DVD war drama without any magnetism or flair. I praise the cast and crew for doing what they could to commemorate the war, but I can't recommend Forbidden Ground as good viewing. Better luck next time.
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