Gallipoli Essay, Research Paper
The film Gallipoli’ accurately describes the conditions of the battle of Gallipoli during World War I. First, it does a great job of capturing the atmosphere concerning the recruitment of the young men who served in the war. They where encouraged to join and shirking your duty’ was frowned upon. Second, the living conditions of the trenches where amazingly lifelike in their appearance. The trenches where probably the single most remembered facet of the Great War. Thirdly, The British officer’s disdain towards the infantry was also replicated correctly. The whole British officer’s mentality was that infantry was expendable and that the Australians were mere cannon fodder’. The movie touched on each of these points as well as gave us a real picture of how much this war was a massacre of men.
Public opinion in the world at the beginning of the war was cheerful and young men were looked upon to fight for many of the participating countries. In the movie, Arch and were encouraged to join the fight. Going to war was looked upon as honorable. They went without any idea of what it really was like or what could happen to them once they got there. In the movie, it appeared that the training wasn’t taken seriously and it is doubtful it would have helped them had they been serious about it. At one point the men all fell down pretending to be wounded to get out of work. War was all about glory and honor. These young men were filled with visions of seeing the world and fighting the good fight. The whole situation parallels sending lambs to the slaughterhouse.
The trenches is where the real feeling of World War I can be attained. They really give you an idea of how dangerous it really is: stay hidden or be killed. Fighting on the Gallipoli front was very close in many places. The soldiers were close enough to see each other, if they dared to look above the trenches. Both sides could be compared to anthills. They dug ditches to keep themselves safe from each other. However, the living conditions weren’t very hospitable. Man was not meant to live like an insect. They also do an excellent job of revealing how random death can come. The constant shelling day and night starting from the time they land really opens your eye to what it was like to be there. According to Fussel p.47 the main job of an infantryman was to exercise self- control while being shelled. A man can be right there one moment and in pieces the next. The trenches were the only way they could protect themselves from this constant threat.
The lasting impression this movie makes upon you stems from the meaningless slaughter caused by the British disregard for colonial soldiers. The British officer orders the Australians to attack even after he knows that they will be cut down. He has a total disregard for their lives. The Australians are ordered to attack and they must for all must obey a direct order especially in wartime. Penalty for disobedience is death. Another motivator is that a true soldier never disobeys a direct order. He is required to put his life on line to follow orders. In the movie it is a horrifying situation. The bombardment has stopped and because of the time difference of their watches, the enemy is prepared to deal with their oncoming charge. To be forced to do something that will be the end of your life and have it be for nothing. It really shows how stupid much of World War I was, how meaningless and costly most of the battles were. Thousands of lives would be lost and not a single foot gained. And how stupid the commanders were for being unable to see that any sort of charge against an entrenched position, fortified with machine guns, really was. This really demonstrates how little the officers valued the infantry. I feel this stems from the British officer coming from upper class and the infantry soldier coming from the middle and lower class. The upper classes seem to hold the colonials as almost sub-humans. They are very careless with their lives. The whole strategy of how they fought the war was severely flawed. They were too stuck on honor and tradition. The bayonet is not a modern warfare weapon and has no place in a modern war. To try to match it against a machine gun is ludicrous. The men knew they were committing suicide. Before the last charge, they removed anything of value they had as they no longer had use of it and wanted it to be left behind. They valued those objects more than the British officer valued their lives. I agree with the brutal picture the film gives of World War I.
The film gives you a good sense of how a young man went to war in World War I. How he goes from his everyday life to living in a ditch getting ready to charge a machine gun armed with only a bayonet. That was exactly what happened on both sides all over the war. When they were enlisting and training they had no idea of the reality that lay before them. The film only shows two mens stories but, they represent the millions that were involved in the war. It also shows how machines and war are a deadly combination. The artillery and the machine guns made the war an extremely bloody affair. The innocence of the youths fighting the war was portrayed in a very touching fashion. This was achieved through the surprise ending of the death of one of the main characters. Arch was a model young man, an athlete at his physical prime and all strength and speed he possessed didn’t help him against the machine guns.
In conclusion, the film Gallipoli’ does an excellent job of portraying the brutality of World War I and the waste of human lives which occurred during it. You get an excellent sense of what it must have been like to be there and put in that situation of how the innocent children of the world were made to live in holes and forced to charge machine guns armed with bayonets. To see their friends die and know that they very likely could be the next to die. A difference between the line officer and the staff officer was also shown. The British officer showed no reluctance to order the men to certain suicide where the line officer was unwilling to order his men to do something that he, himself wouldn’t also do. If he was to order them to die, then he would die with them. It also gives you an insight how little the majority of British officers cared for the common soldier, particularly the Australians.
Weir, Peter. “Gallipoli”, Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Robert Grubb, Bill Kerr., 1981
Paul, Fussel. “The Great War” Ed. English Augustan Poetry. Oxford English Press., 1975