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Significants of Gallipoli Film and Documentry

Paper type: Essay
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The documentary Gallipoli by Tolga Ornak and the film of the same name by Peter Weir, are useful resources to stimulate middle school student interest in, and engagement with, the story of Galipoli and its context in Wold War 1. The 2005 documentary Gallipoli by Turkish filmmaker Tolga Ornek is a graphic examination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign told by both sides. The story is explored through primary resources such as personal diaries and letters.

By using exerpts from the diaries and letters of the soldiers living the experience, the documentary allows these young men a voice which reaches through history to tell us of the hopes they had, the betrayal they felt and the misery they suffered.

This is not done in grandiose rhetoric but rather with the matter -of -fact simple language of ordinary men writing letters home or writing in their diaries. The documentary focuses on the experiences of ten men (two Turks, three Australians, three New Zealanders and two from Britain) who represent the range of the soldiers present on both sides of the battle.

Their stories are illustrated with photographs taken of the actual events by both official war photographers and the soldiers themselves. These images of the faces of these men tell the human story of the suffering of both sides. Ornek also utilises reenactments to create dramatic reconstructions of the landings and the battle. Woven throughout the documentary are the historical perspectives given by academic and military experts. The 1981 Australian film Gallipoli, directed by Peter Weir is is focused on several young men from country Western Australia who join the Australian Army to fight in the First World War.

They are sent to Turkey, where they take part in the Gallipoli Campaign. During the course of the movie, the young men slowly lose their innocence about the purpose of war. Gallipoli portrays the story through the eyes of these Australian men. It does not give the other sides view. It captures the ideals and character of the Australians who joined up to fight, as well as the conditions they endured on the battlefield. It does, however, modify events for dramatic purposes and contains a number of significant historical inaccuracies. The story , characters and their experiences while based on actual events are entirely fictious.

The film and the documentary both explore similar themes. They are both overwhelmingly ‘anti-war focusing on the horror of trench warfare by showing the brutality and suffering of the individuals. Both works examine the loss of innocence and coming of age of the young soldiers and of their country. This is a central motif for Peter Weir’s film and is portrayed through Archy’s drive to go to war prove that he is indeed a man. This is highlighted early in the film when the Uncle reads from Kipling’s The Jungle Book in which he describes Mowgli’s tranformation into a man.

Like Archy, Australia the nation is young and eager to prove its worth to and independence from its mother country. Like Archy the nation lost its innocence on on the battlefields of Gallipoli. Both the documentary and the film highlight Australia’s blind devotion to the Empire. The Australia of 1915 was still very much tied to the mother country Great Britian. In Weir’s film this theme is explored through the two main characters in Archy’s ignorant patriotism and Frank’s cynical pragmatism towards the British. In Ornak’s Gallipoli the blind devotion to the empire is explored throught the ANZAC’S tale.

Although there were many reasons to enlist the documentary focuses on the larrikin spirit of the Australians and the adventure and pride the ANSACS felt serving their mother country Great Britian. The theme of mateship features heavily in Weir’s Gallipoli. This force that bonds Australians together in times of need is explored through the relationship which develops between Archy and Franky despite their being from different ends of the social spectrum. Yet in the chaos of war they are thrown together and their mateship overcomes the differences of their social backgrounds.

Weir also uses the theme of the Australian sporting spirit. This part of the Australian campaign contributes strongly to Frank’s determination to sign up for the war effort. Competition was promoted to enable young men to be apart off the action “The greatest game of the all”. The Sport, an integral part of the Australian persona, is effectively linked to war by Weir, indicating that our soldiers are merely playing a man’s game where they will have ‘no sporting chance’ — this time, there will be no winners.

Orek and Weir convey the sense of betrayal these soldiers felt. Both vehicles highlight the way in which enlisting was sold as the chance to see the world and seek adventure. Weir uses the Trojan horse to highlight how war is often sold as an exciting adventure but this facade is a trap. Ornak’s documentary describes how the turks saw themselves as defending their homeland. The story of Galipoli is told in the film with the full cinematic experience. The leads are all good looking and the beautiful wide shot photography both help to ‘romantisice ‘the war experience.

This ‘hollywood’ delivery of the story is very attractive to young audiences who are used to receiving their entertainment in this form. However based on events which took place on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915, the characters portrayed in this film are entirely fictitious. While the audience is emotionally involved with the charcters some of the power is lost when students learn that these characters are not real. The film also takes some dramatic licence with some historical facts.

Some aspects of the film were inacurate as further research into the Gallipoli campaign I discovered that The Australian War Museum’s website says the minimum age for enlistments during World War I was 18, not 21 as shown in the movie This is not the case with Ornak’s Galipoli. His use of primary resources is a major strength of the film. Combining actual footage, stills and re-enactments with previously unseen letters and diaries of soldiers, Gallipoli allows us to experience the soldiers who suffered the consequence of false orders, bad orders and ill-prepared attacks.

This makes a huge impact on the audience and makes it interesting and engaging to watch. Both the film and the documentary are rich resources to support the study for year 9 and 10 students in the frist world war and as apart of the mandatory Australian History course. Both works are suitable to be studies as part of Australian history course as both help students to engage and empathise with those who experienced Galipoli. Weir’s film is an easy introduction while Ornak’s documentary further extends a students understanding of the Galipoli campaign.

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Significants of Gallipoli Film and Documentry. (2016, Dec 22). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/significants-of-gallipoli-film-and-documentry-essay

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