'Gallipoli' is the story of two young sprinters who join the war effort in Turkey during World War I. There have been countless war films in cinema history covering the different wars, the horrors of war, etc. What is unique about this story is its probing of two young friends and their journey into the military effort--unlike other war films, which deal directly with the war, 90% of this film follows the journey of these two young men before they transfer over to the war. The special quality of this is that the viewer gets to know these two protagonists very well and their humble lives in Australia--which makes the tragic ending all the more devastating. The last 20 or 30 minutes of the film is spent at the Gallipoli peninsula, inside the war trenches. The generals vainly send men running toward the enemy and they are swiftly slaughtered. These scenes demonstrate the horrible truth of war, that healthy young men with lives ahead of them are destroyed forever in a single, pointless instance.
The final minute of the film is truly heartbreaking, as a tragedy occurs between the two young friends. The very last shot of the film is stunning, as a horrible image is frozen on screen. Director Weir could have fallen into the sentimentality trap, but he was smart: the tragedy occurs, and the moment it does, the movie ends RIGHT THERE, leaving you with a haunting final image.
A landmark war film, highly recommended.