EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|BREAKER MORANT (director/writer: Bruce Beresford; screenwriters: Jonathan Hardy/David Stevens/based on the play by Kenneth Ross and the book The Breaker by Kit Denton; cinematographer: Donald McAlpine; editor: William M. Anderson; music: Phil Cunneen; cast: Edward Woodward (Lt. Harry Morant), Jack Thompson (Major J.F. Thomas), Bryan Brown (Lt. Peter Handcock), Lewis Fitz-Gerald (Lt. George Witton), Alan Cassell (Lord Kitchener), Rod Mullinar (Maj. Charles Bolton), Charles Tingwell (Lt. Col. Denny), Terence Donovan (Captain Hunt); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Matt Carroll; Wellspring; 1980-Australia)|
deservedly one of the most
acclaimed Australian films."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Beresford ("Driving Miss Daisy"/"Tender
Mercies"/"Don's Party") directs this low-budget moving
story set during the Boer War (1899-1902) in South
Africa between the
British Empire and the Boers (Dutch South Africans),
that in its
passionate polemical style gives a more sympathetic
account of the war
crime accused than does history. It's based
on the book The Breaker by Kit Denton and on the play by Kenneth
Ross, and is
written by Jonathan
Hardy, David Stevens and
Breaker Morant chronicles
a real incident in
1901 when three Australian lieutenants-Harry 'Breaker'
on the side of the British in South Africa were
executing several enemy civilian dressed farmer Boer
prisoners and a
German missionary after a
battle. The soldiers in the
commando-like Australian Bushveldt Carbineers,
fighting a bloody
guerrilla war, exact revenge for the murder and
mutilation of their beloved leader Captain Hunt in the
battle and are brought
to trial as scapegoats, as the Brits under the command
the prisoner deaths were ever part of
already official covert military policy. The reason
for the betrayal is
because the Brits do not want
to give Germany an excuse to enter the war on the side
of the Boers (as
the Germans also have an eye to possess South Africa's
diamond riches), and are quite willing to punish their
who were only following orders passed down from the
top brass. The
prosecution's case is handled by the polished Maj. Charles Bolton
(Rod Mullinar), while
the defense attorney is the greenhorn Major J.F.
lawyer handling wills and land deeds
in civilian life and who never was part of a
court-martial before. But
surprisingly Thomas gives a spirited brilliant defense
in this rigged
trial, that sees two of the soldiers executed and one
The performances are superb, as it's hardly possible not to be affected by the execution of the soldiers. It's deservedly one of the most acclaimed Australian films. The title is derived from one of the accused nicknamed for being a horse breaker.
Breaker Morant covers familiar ground, but covers it well. It reminds one of Kubrick's military injustice themed masterpiece Paths of Glory (1957).
REVIEWED ON 5/14/2010 GRADE: A
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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