Sunday, August 16, 2015

TV review - "Deadline Gallipoli" (2015) ***

The central idea of this mini series is a strength and a weakness - by telling the story of the Gallipoli campaign through the eyes of war correspondents and photographers, it tackles it in a fresh way; less virginal soldiers thinking of mother going over the top, more sophisticated men of the world being disgusted with an incompetent campaign.

But it's also a weakness in that at the end of the day these people were journalists who just reported what they saw - sure there was pressure in terms of maybe having their accreditation taken away and be sent home, or copping the odd stray bullet/shrapnel... but it's hard to care too much when people are having their heads blown off nearby. And it's not like say All the Presidents Men where the journos are digging away at a story finding out more as they go - here they all know it was bad from the outset, it's just about getting the news out there.

So this story really has a hollow core. "We've got to get the news out" is never going to match "we've got to survive". Also the characterisations aren't that amazing: Joel Judge has a good First XV private school boy look as CW Bean but he starts off as dogged and ends up dogged with PTSD; Sam Worthington has some interesting logistics to play with as Philip Schuster and a romance with Jess De Gouw that wouldn't be out of place in a Charles Chauvel film; Hugh Dancy's sweaty upper class Englishman got on my nerves after a while.

There's still much to admire: the multi racial depiction of the campaign (is this the first Aussie realisation of Anzac to point out the presence of aboriginals, French and Indians there?), some superb battle sequences, a top notch cast, excellent production design, great vignettes such as the war shattered soldiers who have gone loco on the front lines.

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