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Details At A Glance
Trailer-THe Caterpillar Wish, Manual Of Love, Turtles Can Fly
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
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Twentieth Century Fox
Steve Le Marquand
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
There have been over twenty books published, and a few documentaries made, but this is the first feature film to tackle the story of the Kokoda Campaign. While it lacks the scale of other war epics, Kokoda is a good Australian film, that honours the memory of Australians who fought and suffered, to defend this country from invasion.
The Kokoda Campaign
was a series of harrowing World War II battles, fought between Australian and Japanese forces, between July 1942 and January 1943. The Kokoda Trail (or Track) is located in the Owen Stanley Ranges of New Guinea. The Trail roughly runs from Port Moresby to Kokoda, through extremely rugged and impossibly muddy terrain, which makes this tropical and mountainous area only passable on foot.
Ralph Honner famously described the Kokoda Campaign as "Australia's Thermopylae": a handful of hopelessly outnumbered Australian soldiers were called upon to stop a full-scale Japanese invasion along the trail. If the then undefeated, and relentless, Japanese had reached Port Moresby, their next stop would have been mainland Australia. Thus, for perhaps the first time, Australian soldiers were defending Australia and Australians from foreign invasion directly.
Set in 1942, the film Kokoda focuses on a small band of untrained and inexperienced "chocolate soldiers", who are drawn from a largely untrained and ill-equipped militia. With an average age of 19, these "chocos" were initially engaged in maintenance and ancillary services such as building roads and loading/unloading equipment, but soon they had rifles shoved in their hands. Despite the odds and the horrendous conditions, they are united together through their sense of loyalty toward Australia, and duty toward each other.
The film opens with a small platoon of Australian soldiers from the 39th battalion. They are ill-equipped, and many are either injured, or sick from a variety of tropical diseases. Some are virtually starving. They have been positioned as a forward patrol along the Kokoda trail, as the first line of defense.
After the initial invasion by the Japanese forces, a fictional small patrol are cut off from their supply lines and all communications. Isolated in the dense jungle, they are presumably now behind enemy lines. Led by the driven Jack (Jack Finsterer), they decide to fight their way back through some of the harshest terrain on earth, to return to their base, and "do their part". Along the way, the men are challenged in every way - physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually, as their hope and strength is evaporated.
Kokoda's Director, Alister Grierson, Producer, Leesa Kahn, Director of Photography, Jules O'Loughlin, Sound Designer, Adrian Bilinsky, Composer John Gray, and Editor, Adrian Rostirolla all met at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) in Sydney. Greirson's short film Bomb, won Best Comedy at Tropfest last year, and this is his first feature film.
The filmmakers have chosen a curious approach to this seminal moment in Australian history. Grierson noted in an interview that they chose to "collapse it down into something more accessible in 90 minutes, so we came up with a lost patrol concept/genre . . . The final script was based on events that happened just prior to the battle of Isurava where one of several standing patrols who were positioned about an hour outside of Isurava got cut off from the main patrols when the battle began."
However Grierson and his fellow 2004 AFTRS graduates might have bitten off more than they could chew. Tackling an iconic war story like Kokoda, immediately evokes comparisons with other war films such as Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, and Gallipoli. Made for just $4 million, and running for just about an hour and a half, Kokoda is no war epic, yet the subject matter deserves more.
That said, there is a lot to admire in Kokoda. Of particular note, the cinematography is excellent. Shot around Mount Tamborine in the Gold Coast Hinterland, Queensland, cinematographer Jules O'Loughlin has transported us to tropical rainforests of New Guinea. Most of the film was shot with handheld camera. I assume this was an artistic choice - to provide the audience with a sense of immediacy and hyper-reality. But considering the location, and the fact that the film was shot it 28 days, I assume it was a practical choice as well.
Kokoda is severely limited in scope, and doesn't really tell the incredible story of survival, heroism, and sacrifice that is the Kokoda Campaign, but it remains a good film that honours the memory of Australians who fought and suffered, to defend this country from invasion.
Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.
This is a 2006 film, and the DVD's transfer is very good.
The PAL transfer is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.
Shot in very difficult conditions, a few scenes looked a little murky, but overall, the sharpness, black level, and shadow detail are all excellent. For example, consider the detail in the jungle foliage at 42:05, or the shadowy fox hole at 20:06, or the patrol in the jungle at night at 31:11.
The colour, and use of natural and filtered light is excellent. The eerie atmosphere under the jungle canopy is fantastic. The skin tones are accurate.
While occasionally some film grain is present, there are no problems with MPEG, Film-To-Video Artefacts, or film artefacts. The source print for the transfer is pristine.
There are no subtitles.
This is a single-layer disc, which is acceptable considering the content. The feature is divided into 17 chapters.
Video Ratings Summary
The film's sound design is great, and the DVD's audio is excellent.
There are two audio options: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). Fortunately, the default Dolby Digital 5.1 track has been encoded at the superior 448Kb/s.
The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent.
The musical score is credited to John Gray, and it suits the film well.
The surround presence and activity is fairly constant and enveloping. The rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score and provide ambience, for example the tropical rain storm at 20:20. There are also some nice ambience effects throughout, such as the subtle jungle sounds at 42:14.
The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively throughout, especially during the battle scenes.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a few extras, but note, a Special Edition has been flagged.
A simple menu.
Kokoda's Director, Alister Grierson, provides a screen-specific commentary, which is more technical in nature. Grierson discusses many aspects of the production, from the film's aims and script, through to their use of lens, locations, and choice of shooting style.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.
A collection of behind-the-scenes, photographic stills taken by Jasia Bolond.
More from Palace
- The Caterpillar Wish
- Manual of Love
- Turtles Can Fly
- Australian Rules
- Kokoda Special Edition - this is not a trailer, but a text-based list of extras.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
Kokoda is zoned for all regions, and there does not appear to be a R1 DVD release.
Kokoda is well worth viewing, and recommended.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is also excellent.
The extras are limited but good.
© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, October 20, 2006
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9).
Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
Calibrated with Video Essentials.
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|
Proud Australian but.....
Proud Australian but.....