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500 Five-Star: Breaker Morant (1980)

January 5, 2013

I watch a lot of films.  Not as many as I would like, but definitely more than the so-called ‘average person’.  I love films, and because of that, I go into every new film hoping to be surprised and astounded.  I want to watch a film and believe that it has been made out of genuine passion and care, rather than for financial gain or ego trippage.  If I get just a small sense of that, then I’m always likely to look on a film more favourably, even when it doesn’t quite reach perfection (or as close to it as any filmmaker could realistically get).  It may be the view of a simple idealist.  It may be that I’m being horrendously naive when I choose to believe that Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo starred in 13 Going on 30 because of love for the script, and therefore refuse to hear a word against it.  If so, then so be it.  I like my simpleton ways.

In the case of Breaker Morant, the fact that it holds a place in Empire’s 500 Five-Star Films is enough to know that my love for the film isn’t just down to my romantic nature.  I know that, despite the fact I hadn’t even heard of it before starting this project, it is considered a great film by many critics and regular viewers alike.  However, there were faults to be found within it.  It’s rather melodramatic in places, to the point of corniness, even, and it took around an hour for me to feel fully immersed in what turned out to be a very intriguing and powerful story.  These faults are more than made up for by the positives though.  It’s a beautiful film, as well as the type of story that simply doesn’t get told if those behind it aren’t passionate about making it so.  Telling the real-life tale of a trio of soldiers who are court-martialled for effectively following orders from high command, it’s not only an excellent piece of drama, but asks important questions about violence and hierarchy in war.  The answers are not spoon-fed to the viewer, but rather left to linger, and what Breaker Morant eventually boils down to is a remarkable piece of anti-war rhetoric.  With excellent performances and a tremendously strong ending to round things off, it’s the type of film in which any fault becomes incredibly easy to ignore.


Not a perfect film, but anything as intelligent, well-crafted, and impassioned as this deserves very high praise.


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