Gallipoli (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 18-Mar-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Audio Commentary-Episode 1: Series historical advisor Dayton McCarthy
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 336:28
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Glendyn Ivin
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee
Harry Greenwood
Sam Parsonson
James Callis
John Bach
Anthony Phelan
Tom Budge
Leon Ford
James Callis
Case ?
RPI ? Music Stephen Rae


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† 25 April, 1915; 17 year old Tolly Johnson (Kodi Smit-McPhee), together with elder brother Bevan (Harry Greenwood) and friends Dave (Sam Parsonson) and Cliff (Tom Budge), lands with the first wave of Anzac troops at Gallipoli and pushes inland up gullies and across ridges. Initially Turkish resistance is light but soon Turkish reinforcements arrive and counterattack. The Turks hold the high ground and the Anzacs, on this first day, advance as far inland as they will get; this marks the start of an eight month stalemate which will see heroism, sacrifice, death, dysentery, flies and mud.

†††† It is inevitable that on the 100th anniversary of the landings that shaped the Australian (and New Zealand) national identity that films and TV series re-examining the campaign are being made. Shown on the Nine Network Gallipoli is a mini-series written by Lee Christopher and inspired by the book by Les Carlyon (indeed Carlyonís Gallipoli and The Great War are two of the most outstanding books on Australian soldiers in the Great War currently available). It is all here: the confusion, missed opportunities and mismanagement of the initial landings that almost led to an evacuation after the first day, the chaotic landscape of ridges, gullies and trenches, the soldiers who fought and died for mates, King and Empire, Lone Pine, the massacre at The Nek, the evacuation. Generals living in comfort on their ships studying maps and out of touch with what is happening on the ridges of the peninsula, the correspondents including Charles Bean (Leon Ford), who would later write the history of Australians in WW1, and Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett (James Callis) who attempted to let the politicians in London know what was really happening.

†††† Gallipoli tries to be definitive and as a result has scores of speaking parts and while the dates and locations are sometimes captioned on screen, the individuals are not. Certainly we get to know the main protagonists, but often there are a group of officers standing around in a tent formulating and disputing. Those of the audience who have some knowledge of the campaign will pick up names, such as Bridges and Godley (commanders of the 1st Australian Division and the New Zealand and Australian Division respectively) but others will have no idea of who they are. Gallipoli is also told principally through three story arcs involving Tolly, Army Commander Sir Ian Hamilton (John Bach) and the correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, which is where some of the questions about the seriesí focus start.

†††† The series shows that Hamilton was undermined by his own staff, including his chief of staff General Walter Braithwaite (Nicholas Hope) and made a scapegoat for the failure of the campaign. Hamilton, as portrayed by a very good John Bach was a cultured, brave and intelligent man, whose main fault was to place too much trust in subordinates and to not interfere with their plans when things where not working. His downfall and removal is quite moving, but it is lengthy and takes the focus in a number of episodes off what is actually happening on Gallipoli itself.

†††† This is compounded by the additional story line about reporting the events at Gallipoli and its emphasis on the Englishman Ashmead-Bartlett, who is a self-serving and not really likeable character. How Gallipoli was reported / misrepresented at the time is an interesting topic, and in fact is the subject of another TV film Deadline Gallipoli that was made for Foxtel. Ashmead-Bartlett was certainly responsible for creating some of the myths about the landings, writing from the safety of a boat offshore, but when he later saw what he believed was the incompetence of the staff officers, and was prohibited from reporting events, he become one of Hamiltonís greatest critics. His conversations with the Australian Charles Bean and the other correspondents in Gallipoli become more a dialogue about whether the duty of reporters is to record facts, or opinions, which is interesting but not necessarily vital to the story of the soldiers doing the fighting.

†††† The events on the peninsula itself and the activities of the fighting men of both sides, however, are wonderfully recreated. The action in Gallipoli is not the in-close jerky hand-held camera work that has become almost mandatory since Saving Private Ryan. It is still well staged and impressive however; CGI is not overused and is only obvious in scenes involving the ships. The series instead tends to use wider shots; the effect is action that is still loud and chaotic but does allow us to see the soldiers more clearly as well as the landscape of gullies, draws and ridges upon which the battle is being fought. The landscape of Gallipoli is, rightly, a major character in the series. Les Carlyon in his books talks about walking the ground to try to understand why things happened as they did; those who have walked the battlefield of Gallipoli, as I have, know what Carlyon is on about and it is to the credit of Gallipoli that the audience gets an understanding of the nature of the terrain over which the battle was fought. The series achieves this in subtle stages: on the first day it is all a confusion of ridges and gullies but the combat is in the open and very fluid; as the campaign continues shallow trenches start to be seen, building towards the end of the series into a deep, elaborate system of trenches and dugouts.

†††† Kodi Smit-McPhee made an impact with child roles in Romulus, My Father (2007) and The Road (2009) and in Gallipoli he shows that he has the acting ability and maturity to headline a major production. His Tolly is a confused young man thrust into a place he has never heard of, quickly gaining maturity, if not understanding and it is his narration which gives the series much of its heart, melancholy and complexity.

†††† The landing and events at Gallipoli has generated a wide range of myths, legends and folk-lore including a massacre on the beaches and the incompetence of the British commanders. On balance Gallipoli does an excellent job of being wide-ranging, even handed, compassionate, tragic and dramatic, telling the story of the doomed campaign in a factual and realistic way.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Gallipoli is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original broadcast ratio, in 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† This is a good print. Close up detail is excellent, while the colour palate is mostly browns, yellows and dull greens although the blue sea and the reds of the fires are deep and vibrant. Colours in the Australia remembered by Tolly are lighter. Blacks and shadow detail are wonderful, such as the lights on the Gallipoli hillsides. Although this is 1080i, I noticed no artefacts.

†††† English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available and white subtitles also automatically translate the sections of Turkish dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† The audio is an English DTS- HD MA 5.1 plus an audio commentary, Dolby Digital 2.0.

†††† Dialogue is not always clear on the battlefield although the sense is. The surrounds and rears are frequently in use. During the action sequences the gunshots have resonance, there are explosions and voices, bullet strikes are loud and deep and even in the quieter moment there is cannon fire and gunshots somewhere in the distance, plus the crunch of feet, weather effects such as rain and thunder, and the music. The subwoofer supported the thunder, cannon fire, explosions and the music.

†††† The score by Stephen Rae is quite beautiful; it is melancholy and reflective, using orchestral and choral cues, but also supports the action sequences with appropriate bombast.

†††† Lip synchronisation is fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary Episode 1

††††Dayton McCarthy was the seriesí historical and military advisor. He provides some information about the myths / legends contrasted to the reality of Day 1, Australian uniforms and unit badges, filming locations and stunts. He does identify individuals and their roles but there are lots of gaps and a fair bit of description of what is on the screen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† Gallipoli is currently only released here in Australia.

Summary

†††† Gallipoli is a compelling narrative and a major event series, showing the reality of the Gallipoli terrain, the hardships and mateships and featuring a wonderful and mature performance by Kodi Smit-McPhee. The series tries to be definitive and wide-ranging which does result in a blurring of focus but on the whole it is even handed, compassionate, tragic and dramatic.

†††† Gallipoli tries to show the truths about the Gallipoli campaign and after 100 years it is certainly time to re-examine the legends associated with the events which forged the Australian identify. As Dayton McCarthy in his commentary says, knowing the truth, as opposed to the myths and legends, in no way undermines the heroism and sacrifice of those who were there.

†††† The video and audio are very good. A decent commentary on one episode is the only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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