Breaker Morant (1980)

One of the crowning glories of the Australian New Wave of the ’70s and ’80s, this blistering historical tale examines an incident during the Boer Wars with surprising parallels to the Vietnam War. In 1902, three Australian officers were rushed into a court-martial for shooting prisoners of war, even though they had been ordered to do so. The injustice has been explained as a propaganda ploy to aid the British in negotiating a lasting peace in South Africa, but it also exposed the horrors of war, where perfectly affable, good people can be forced into inhuman acts. This was a groundbreaking film for the Australian film industry. Although British actor Edward Woodward was cast in the title role (the character was actually British-born), the rest of the cast was made up of Australian actors. Director Bruce Beresford, actors Bryan Brown, as one of the court-martialed officers, and Jack Thompson, as their defense attorney, began receiving job offers from around the globe after the film took off as an international critical hit. When Thompson was named Best Supporting Actor at Cannes, BREAKER MORANT became the first Australian film to win an award at the prestigious film festival.

(d. Bruce Beresford, 107m, 35mm)

In attendance: Bruce Beresford