Gallipoli Studio: Paramount Home Video Year: 1981 (2005 Release) Rated: PG Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays Audio: English DD 5.1/ 2.0; French mono Subtitles: English; Spanish Time: 111 minutes Disc Type: DL/ DVD-9 Australia had just become its own nation in 1901, so World War I was the country’s first time to do something nationally. It did it big in 1915 when the Aussies teamed with New Zealand to for ANZAC, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, which was a joint military operation between the two countries. The Australians sold their native kids on the war by telling them they were going out for adventure and excitement, but they wound up walking into something they were never prepared for. ANZAC was dispatched to assist the British forces all over Europe, and in the case of this picture, Gallipoli, Turkey. Mark Lee plays Archy Hamilton, an eighteen year old who dreams of going off to join the war effort. Archy is quickly becoming a locally recognized sprinter and he is winning races around his hometown. His Uncle Jack is trying to dissuade him from going to war by encouraging him to pursue what could be a huge career in running. Archy meets up with Frank Dunne, played by Mel Gibson, and winds up beating him in a race. Frank tells Archy if he goes with him to Perth, he will be able to join the army there as restrictions aren’t as tight as they are locally. After they wind up at a train depot days away from Perth, the two decide to walk across the desert instead of waiting for the next train in two weeks. Based on the two young men’s racing abilities and desire to serve, a friendship is established and strengthened during the grueling desert trek. Once they arrive in Perth, they are both accepted in the army, but Frank cannot ride a horse, so he goes to the infantry unit while Archy goes to the more glamorous Light Brigade. After a small detour, Archy and Frank convince their CO to allow them to work on the Light Brigade together, and they are shipped out to Turkey to assist the Brits in the fight against the German allied Turks. Archy and Frank are assigned to the trenches to await the climax of their mission, a full frontal assault on the Turkish forces by ANZAC. However, arrogance gets in the way of better judgment sending the picture to its tragic and abrupt conclusion. The phrase “final shot” has never been more meaningful on so many different levels as in this picture. I have become very turned off by war pictures anymore, and I am very hesitant to go back and view older ones as well. It has nothing to do with politics, I just find that the genre itself is lacking something, in that every war story we see anymore is simply another exercise in the display of “the horrors of war” and “man’s inhumanity to man”. Rarely is there any new or revolutionary commentary, it just rehashes the same formula. “Gallipoli” focuses approximately 75% of its running time on Archy’s story, with Frank as the supporting character. It takes the wide eyed, innocent enthusiasm of a young man and shows it the real world. The war simply becomes a backdrop for what is truly a coming of age story. Video: Colors on this new edition are excellent! Lots of late afternoon sun contributes to the natural brown, tans and greens in the Australian and Turkish landscapes. This is contrasted with the stunning blue sky. Flesh tones are rich and colorful, showing off the suntanned complexions of the actors. Black levels are deep, but I noticed loss of detail in some of the darker scenes. Detail is better in the lighter scenes, but perhaps a little soft in some places. Edge enhancement is noticeable, but that is the main detractor from this otherwise beautiful transfer. There is another thread on HTF that has some screen caps posted showing the differences between this and the previous release. I was unable to find the original release for direct comparison, so I will refer you to the aforementioned thread. Director Peter Weir and Cinematographer Russell Boyd take full advantage of the beauty of the Australian, Egyptian and Turkish settings in shooting this epic 2.35:1 picture, and we are fortunate enough to have such a great transfer to showcase the presentation. Audio: The English Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is planted primarily in the front channels. It takes advantage of numerous stereo pans to set the soundstage. Surrounds are used sparingly, but they jumped to life during the battle scenes towards the end of the picture. Fidelity is fairly good, but the audio does seem a bit dated as it lacks some of the punch newer releases have. One minor aesthetic gripe I have is with the score: at times, we are presented with spacey synthesizers and drum beats, such as in the trek across the desert. In a film such as this, with its basis in history and its heavy subject matter, these tracks tend to drag you out of the world of the story and drop you right into, well, 1981. I was hoping for some commentary on this from Weir in the documentary, but it was not addressed. Bonus Features: Paramount’s updated edition of “Gallipoli” contains a new documentary entitled “Entrenched: The Making of Gallipoli”. It is a six part documentary that you can watch as one whole or in six individual segments. It features interviews with Weir, Gibson, Lee, screenplay writer David Williamson producer Patricia Lovell and other cast members. Each of the participants explains the history of Gallipoli, ANZAC Day, and how Australia’s participation in the war changed the country. The documentary is anamorphic and it contains numerous historical photos. Weir discusses, in fairly good detail, his influences that helped him make Gallipoli, his initial trip to Gallipoli, the letters of soldiers from the front and the production of the picture itself. I was quite pleased to see Gibson spending as much time as he does explaining his role in the production, as do almost all of the cast members. Paramount has done a very nice job with this in-depth documentary for what could be considered a small DVD release. The documentary is broken down into the following six parts: The Call to Adventure (14:51) Touching History (8:48) The Theatre of War (14:54) Into the Trenches (15:12) Moments in Time (8:24) Reflections (6:23) Also included on this release is the theatrical trailer and previews for other releases. Conclusions: This new edition of “Gallipoli” has turned out to be one of my surprise favorite releases this year. Paramount has done an excellent job in sprucing up the picture and giving us an in-depth documentary all at a fairly low price. On top of that, you get a tremendous coming of age story set against the backdrop of a new country trying to establish its identity on the world (war) stage. Notes: - I apologize for this review being a little late. The switchover from Scott to me is complete, so I should be caught up and on schedule from here on out! - This title was evaluated on my main set up, which you can see by following the link below.