Film Analysis of Gallipoli

Topics: Australia, Peter Weir, Desert Pages: 7 (2665 words) Published: June 28, 2008
Feature Film Analysis - Gallipoli (directed by Peter Weir)

Gallipoli, as the title suggests, is a portrayal of the historical event in which thousands of Australian soldiers went off to fight for their country. Peter Weir, the director of Gallipoli has not simply presented the facts about the war, nor has he tried to relay the story of this time, instead he has attempted to convey the legend of Gallipoli through the Australian's feelings towards the event using pre-existing myths to portray this tragedy of war.

In this analysis the main method of approach to the study of the film will be focusing on the Australian cultural values and myths that are presented in Gallipoli and how they are conveyed through the use of film techniques and the elements involved. Overall through the study of the above it will be shown how Gallipoli works as a cultural text and how readers interpret these cultural meanings.

Gallipoli starts off being presented in circular narrative, revolving around the two central characters Archy and Frank in their two separate environments. By commencing the film in this way, viewers are given the opportunity to see the differences in character both in their overall appearance as well as their values and beliefs. The difference in the appearance of the characters can be read at a connotative level of meaning - Archy is the blonde hair, blue eyed, candid, innocent and naive "Noble bushman". The clothes he wears are always light in colour (as is his complexion) symbolising his purity and innocence. Frank, on the other hand, is seen dressed in darker clothes, has dark hair and complexion, is cunning, worldly and a battler.

We see evidence of this opposition in the fact that Archy is still under parental and adult authority living in the outback, in contrast to Frank who is a city boy who does whatever he pleases. The first time that these characters meet, which is in a championship sprinting race, viewers are given clues as to the bond ('mateship') that is going to be formed through the use of camera and editing. Sprinting down the track at opposite ends of the lane we see Frank (dressed in black) look over at Archy (in white) to check on the competition. From a subjective camera angle viewers then see Frank from Archy's point of view and know that this is to show the determination to beat his opponent.

The other use of camera techniques that demonstrate the relationship between the central characters is the move from a long shot of Frank and Archy at opposite ends of the screen to the final shot of the race in which the characters are together in the centre of the screen - this mise en scene showing the closeness of Frank and Archy is used frequently throughout the film and will be discussed again further in the analysis.

Mateship as an Australian myth is quite dominant in the film, this occurring between all of the Australian soldiers and coming out even stronger in the bond between Archy and Frank. Weir has chosen to represent this mateship coming from the competitiveness of the Australian men. Archy and Frank are seen competing in their first scene together - the big race and from then on there are many more competitions (especially running) between them, always showing Frank just that little bit slower than Archy. For example to the camel man in the desert, to the pyramids in Cairo and to the water at Gallipoli. This is very important in the understanding of the final scene, when although they are not competing they are both running with determination - Archy to save his country, Frank to save his mate.

In the scenes where we see Frank and Archy crossing the harsh Australian desert we see the myth of mateship being strengthened as they depend on each other for survival. It is the mise en scene in these shots that demonstrates this friendship. Long shots have been intentionally selected to show the desert setting and have also succeeded in placing the two characters on centre screen in...
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