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Breaker Morant (1980)

'Breaker' Morant (original title)
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Three Australian lieutenants are court martialed for executing prisoners as a way of deflecting attention from war crimes committed by their superior officers.

Director:

Bruce Beresford

Writers:

Jonathan Hardy (screenplay by), David Stevens (screenplay by) | 4 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Woodward ... Lt. Harry Harbord 'Breaker' Morant
Jack Thompson ... Major J.F. Thomas
John Waters ... Capt. Alfred Taylor
Bryan Brown ... Lt. Peter Handcock
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell ... Lt. Col. H.C. Denny (as Charles Tingwell)
Terence Donovan Terence Donovan ... Capt. Simon Hunt
Vincent Ball Vincent Ball ... Col. Ian 'Johnny' Hamilton
Ray Meagher ... Sgt. Maj. Drummond
Chris Haywood ... Cpl. Sharp
Russell Kiefel Russell Kiefel ... Trooper Christiaan Botha
Lewis Fitz-Gerald ... Lt. George Ramsdale Witton
Rod Mullinar Rod Mullinar ... Major Charles Bolton
Alan Cassell Alan Cassell ... Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener
Rob Steele Rob Steele ... Capt. Donald Robertson
Chris Smith Chris Smith ... Cameron Sergeant
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Storyline

During the Boer War, three Australian lieutenants are on trial for shooting Boer prisoners. Though they acted under orders, they are being used as scapegoats by the General Staff, who hopes to distance themselves from the irregular practices of the war. The trial does not progress as smoothly as expected by the General Staff, as the defence puts up a strong fight in the courtroom. Written by Kasper Sevaj <kaspsev@dorit.ihi.ku.dk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They were ordered to "take no prisoners" See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia

Language:

English | Afrikaans

Release Date:

3 July 1980 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Breaker Morant See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

AUD 650,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,142,857
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the book the 'Australian Film & TV Companion' by Tony Harrison, actors "John Hargreaves and Sam Neill were linked to the roles eventually played by Jack Thompson and Bryan Brown [respectively]". See more »

Goofs

In the closeup of a soldier's finger pulling the trigger of his Enfield rifle during Lt Morant's explanation of "Rule 303" to the court, the rifle stays absolutely still when the shot goes off. In actuality, a high-powered rifle like the .303-caliber Enfield would "jump" noticeably at the instant of firing. See more »

Quotes

Peter Handcock: [standing on a table] There once was a lad from Australia, who painted his ass like a dahlia, the color was fine and likewise the design, but the aroma -whew!- that was the failure.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Introducing Lewis Fitz-Gerald as George Witton See more »

Connections

Referenced in South Australia: ocean to outback (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Sarie Marais
Traditional - Afrikaans
Written by Albert Diggenhof (i.e.Gideon Fagan) (uncredited) and Josef Marais (uncredited)
Arranged by Eric Cook and his Orchestra (uncredited)
Performed by John Pfitzner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Plot for Warriors of Any Epoch
2 March 2005 | by DoctorVicSee all my reviews

After first encountering "Breaker" Morant during a bout of insomnia in 1984 on cable, I have repeatedly come back to this film as one of my all-time classics--covering war, politics, tactics, transitions to manhood involved in all wars--and injustice.

Although set during the Boer War, the account of three officers tried for murder during a war in which the opponents were dressed as civilians has its obvious parallels to the 21st Century. It is absolutely amazing how similar a court marshal can be out on the "velt" of South Africa, in Washington, D.C., or during a purely uniformed war in which all protagonists are easily identifiable.

Three Australian volunteers for the "Bushvelt Carbineers", recruited to fight against civilian-clad commandos (reportedly the first use of the term), find themselves charged with murder, and set as an example by the British in order to prevent Germany from entering the war on the side of the Boer (Dutch) inhabitants of South Africa. In one incredulous encounter between a British officer and Lord Kitchener, the officer spouts the British line "they lack our altruism" (referring to German interests in the gold and silver mines of South Africa), to which Lord Kitchener grudgingly responds, "Quite." A sham trial from start to finish, the Australians are defended by military attorney with experience in "land conveyancing and wills" to which one of those charged, "the latter might come in handy." The film is replete with irony and tragicomic circumstances, as this "new war for a new century" presages many of the conflicts that would come later in the 20th century, and many of the clear paradoxes and trying aspects of the war against terror--again, in which one side is not uniformed, does not conduct war according to any known "rules" of "civilized warfare" (an oxymoron if ever there was one). It has lost none of its cutting edge in the 25-odd years since its release.


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