In a rare TV interview, Mel Gibson has spoken about the classic Australian film Gallipoli as the nation marks Anzac Day.
Gibson’s acting career was in its infancy when he starred as soldier Frank Dunne in the 1981 Peter Weir (Picnic at Hanging Rock) film about the infamous Gallipoli landing.
The film also featured actors Mark Lee (Archy Hamilton), Bill Kerr (Jack), Harold Hopkins (Les McCann) and Bill Hunter (Major Barton).
Of the more than 60,000 Australian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, more than 8500 diggers died at Gallipoli, Turkey, according to figures collected by the Australian War Memorial.
Australians will honour the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign next year and to mark the occasion a number of film and TV projects about the bloody battle are being made, including Russell Crowe’s film The Water Diviner and the Nine Network’s Gallipoli mini-series.
It’s been more than three decades since Weir’s film was released but it is still considered by many as one of the greatest Australian films.
Gibson, who admitted it’s been a while since he’s watched the film, spoke to the Nine Network and said as part of his research for the film he talked to an 84-year-old veteran who survived Gallipoli.
“He was at the Battle of Nek, which is what’s portrayed in the film. …’I said how did you feel, what was that like when they were blowing the whistle?’ .. and he just leaned forward and said `well there was nothing else for it son, you had to go'” Gibson said in the interview, aired on the Today Show on Friday.
The Charge at the Nek, a well-known battle in 1915, was captured poignantly in Gallipoli when Archy Hamilton and his friends are ripped apart by machine-gun fire in a failed charge towards enemy lines on the Turkish peninsula.
Gibson said he could easily relate to the movie’s theme of mateship.
“When I think of those guys I always think of them with great reverence because I think they did it so I didn’t have to. … One should always give a lot of respect to their soldiers.
“And ultimately at the end of the day they’re just there trying to survive and they put out for each other, for their camaraderie and love for one another.
Nine’s Gallipoli miniseries – starring Lachy Hulme as Lord Kitchener and rising star Kodi Smit-McPhee, will air in 2014. It is being filmed at several locations in Victoria, with the April 25 landing being staged on the Mornington Peninsula.
Hollywood star Sam Worthington will star and co-produce a mini-series, entitled The Gallipoli Story, about a group of journalists embedded with World War I troops for pay TV broadcaster Foxtel.
Crowe’s The Water Diviner tells the story of a man who travels to Gallipoli after the bloody World War I battle to find his missing sons. It’s being shot in Australia and Turkey.