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Breaker Morant (1980)

'Breaker' Morant (original title)
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0:55 | Trailer
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 »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

A powerful true story of bitter revenge... 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:

AUD650,000 (estimated)
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 film the defendants are allowed to gather in a common room until lights out to socialize and meet with their lawyer and other visitors. In reality there were six defendants in total, including Captain Taylor, who were held in strict solitary confinement from their arrest through sentencing and were not allowed to communicate with each other at all. See more »

Quotes

Lord Kitchener: Needless to say, the Germans couldn't give a damn about the Boers. The diamonds and gold of South Africa they're after.
Major Bolton: They lack our altruism, sir.
Lord Kitchener: Quite.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Introducing Lewis Fitz-Gerald as George Witton See more »


Soundtracks

Lochaber No More
(uncredited)
Traditional
Written by Allan Ramsey
Music by Thomas Connellan
Arranged by Jack Grimsley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Intelligent Drama About Military Morality
28 October 2003 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

We don't see very many films or dramas on the history channel here in Britain . I know the American version shows them because American reviewers have mentioned this on this very website , but I'm not very keen on this happening over here because before you know it we might be seeing THE GREEN BERETS , BRAVEHEART and WE WERE SOLDIERS appearing on the channel , poor movies and poor history to boot in my opinion . At the weekend we were treated to BREAKER MORANT . As I said I'm not keen on the history channel transmitting feature films but I'll forgive them this time because it's a very good movie and very good history .

BREAKER MORANT is the dramatisation of a real life incident during the Boer war , the first " dirty war " of the 20th century , where three Australian officers Harry Morant , John Handcock and George Witton are on trial for their lives for the murder of boer POWs and of a German missionary . What I love about this film is that unlike a lot of other movies with an anti-war / anti- military injustice agenda is that it shows the difficult situations soldiers will always find themselves in . The men on trial are victims , victims of politics and of a wider picture . With the killing of the missionary Germany wants to intervene in the conflict on the side of the boers , not to protect the noble South African farmers from British aggression but to get their hands on the region's gold and diamond mines . In order to stop this happening the British government needs scapegoats in order to hang and Morant , Witton and Handcock were to be hung out to dry so it's the politicians of the time who are to blame for this miscarriage of justice , not the military , and it'd be interesting to note what people who campaign for pardons for the British soldiers shot for " cowardice " during the first world war make of this tale . The three characters on trial here are victims of a grave injustice but you can't help feeling because they " were only obeying orders " sympathy for them will be in short supply from a modern day perspective . I'm probably correct in saying that anyone who's served in the military can see far more clearly the injustice done than any of the " professional anti-war brigade " . BREAKER MORANT isn't a movie than can be used for anyone's hidden agenda , and for that we should be grateful

It's fairly obvious BREAKER MORANT is based upon a stage play . The central setting is a military court room with much of the story told in flashback . Director Bruce Beresford handles the action scenes very well but in this type of story the most important aspect is the cast and their acting , and the director gets the best out of his cast especially Edward Woodward ( Normally an actor I don't like ) who gives a career best performance and Jack Thompson . My only criticism of the casting is that a couple of actors playing British characters let their Aussie accents slip a little , but I'm nitpicking .

Just to sum up this is a very intelligent story of a dirty war , dirty politics and dirty justice which will appeal to serious historians and former servicemen rather than professional pacifists


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