Gallipoli Parent Guide
This moving film gives a much-needed look at the contribution Australians made to the First World War and does so with sincerity and heart.
Parent Movie Review
Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) was born to run and his life in the Australian outback gives him both the time and space to maximize his gifts. When he heads to the nearest town to compete in a race, he leaves the fellow competitors in his dust but develops a friendship with Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson), one of the men he defeated. The two men determine to enlist in the military –Archy out of high-minded patriotism and Frank out of a need for money strong enough to overcome his bred-in-the-bone Irish distrust of the English. After a variety of adventures at home, both men enlist and wind up in Egypt, en route to the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli.
Gallipoli. The name is seared into the historical consciousness of every Australian. With 26,000 men wounded and over 8,000 dead, the Gallipoli campaign of 1915-1916 represented a massive sacrifice on the part of a remote nation with a population of less than five million. To this day, Australians and New Zealanders mark Anzac Day on April 25th to commemorate the horrendous losses both nations sustained in that fateful campaign. The deaths of Gallipoli played a critical part in uniting Australians in shared grief while building a sense of nationhood independent of Britain.
Gallipoli is a seminal historical event, but director Peter Weir makes the wise choice to tell the story from an accessible, personal level. Archy and Frank are both sympathetic, believable characters, well acted by Mark Lee and a very young Mel Gibson. Their growing friendship and their increasing disillusion with the war both come across clearly. Their fellow soldiers also humanize the war and give faces to the losses of the battles.
As war films go, Gallipoli has reasonable levels of negative content. There is some battlefield violence and blood, but it’s not gruesome or excessive, considering the historical context. There is also some sexual content, mainly a scene of men sharing burlesque postcards with images of naked women, briefly seen on screen. Soldiers also go skinny-dipping, providing brief flashes of frontal nudity and some more extended buttock nudity. Swearing is minor and there are some historically accurate scenes of smoking and drinking. This film has a PG rating but that is because it was released before the PG-13 rating – which it merits - came into existence. This is a fine movie for teens but is much too frightening for younger viewers.
Frankly, Gallipoli’s biggest problem isn’t negative content; it’s pacing. The first third of the film which takes place in Australia is interesting and gives Frank and Archy solid backstories. The final third in Gallipoli carries all the tension and dread of a doomed battle. But the middle third drags and feels almost completely pointless. If you’re looking for a good spot to go make popcorn, that’s the time.
Flaws aside, Gallipoli is a critically important film in providing an Australian conflict on the Great War to a world that is often unaware of the impact Aussies have had on world history. And this movie delivers its lessons with unforgettable impact. I first saw the movie in the 1980s, and the final scene has been burned into my memory ever since.Directed by Peter Weir. Starring Mel Gibson, Mark Lee. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release August 28, 1981. Updated November 5, 2022
Watch the trailer for Gallipoli
Rating & Content Info
Why is Gallipoli rated PG? Gallipoli is rated PG by the MPAA
Violence: There are frequent scenes of battlefield injuries. There is blood but little gruesome detail. There is a shot fired in slow motion with a detailed depiction of a death.
Sexual Content: Soldiers have a brief lecture on how to avoid sexually transmitted infections. There is a brief diagram of male genitalia in an educational context. Soldiers look at burlesque postcards with some full frontal and rear female nudity. It is implied that soldiers visit prostitutes. A prostitute raises her skirt to expose her backside to passing men; another prostitute rubs her with a leather stick. Soldiers go skinny dipping at a beach with very brief frontal and rear nudity (blink and you miss it).
Profanity: There is infrequent use of mild profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Soldiers frequently smoke cigarettes, which is historically accurate. There are several scenes of social drinking.
Page last updated November 5, 2022
Gallipoli Parents' Guide
For more about the Gallipoli campaign you can read the following:
The Guardian: What happened at Gallipoli?
History.com: Battle of Gallipoli
Wikipedia: Gallipoli campaign
Gallipoli is based on history but its characters are fictional. For an assessment of the movie’s historical accuracy, you can try these links:
Sydney Morning Herald: Rupert Murdoch’s airbrushing Anzac history to make his dad hero
The Guardian: Gallipoli: top of class