War. What is it good for? Judge Roy Hrab says that Gallipoli provides some answers.
Our review of Gallipoli: Special Collector's Edition, published January 10th, 2006, is also available.
The war itself is the only "enemy" in this film…
Gallipoli is nothing if not thorough. Even more, this is documentary draws out the humanity from the most brutal of subjects: War.
The Battle of Gallipoli (also known as the Dardanelles Campaign) was waged on Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula during the First World War from April to December 1915. It was a joint effort by the British and French to breakthrough on the Eastern Front. Also, it was the first major campaign to feature the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). In the final analysis, however, the Battle of Gallipoli, with a death total of approximately 100,000 soldiers for both sides combined, represents, more than anything, a prime example of the mindlessness, foolishness, and wastefulness of war.
It is a captivating tale from the very beginning. The Allies did not have much of a plan for the invasion. Brimming with unfounded over-confidence, they expected the Turks to surrender immediately. Needless to say, this did not happen. Instead, a vicious and protracted struggle evolved, involving multiple suicide charges to capture ridiculously small pieces of land, underground tunneling, rampant disease and malnutrition caused by continuously deteriorating trench conditions, an abnormally hot summer and cold winter, flooding, and the burning of corpses to eliminate the stench of decay.
All of this is captured comprehensively and compellingly by director Tolga Ornek (Hittites), using a mixture of still photographs, period and contemporary film footage, interviews with historians, and re-enactments. The main narration is provided by Jeremy Irons (Reversal Of Fortune) with support from Sam Neill (Dead Calm) for reading the letters and diaries of both Allied and Turkish soldiers. The use of the correspondence adds a human element to the proceedings that resonates throughout the film. Listening to the words of these men as they accept their fate and conditions as a matter of fact is both touching and stunning, especially given how poorly treated they were by their immediate superiors and the decision makers back home. There is not even the slightest sense of outrage expressed by these men towards those that placed them in a death zone. Do such people exist today?
The film is technically sound. There are no problems with the video or audio.
There is a minimal set of extras, consisting of a trailer and a slideshow of photographs. The lack of extras, especially commentary, is surprising given the historical importance of the events studied and the close attention to detail in the feature documentary.
Gallipoli is a must see for war and history buffs, but is also worth viewing even if you don't belong to these groups. It provides a vivid reminder that war is hell and leads to the lives of many good people being wasted.
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