Breaker Morant

War · 
History · 

Release Date: June 11, 1980

Status: Released

Running time: 1h 47m

Content Rating: PG

Budget: $107

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Three Australian lieutenants are on trial for shooting prisoners. They are being used as scapegoats by the General Staff, who want to distance themselves from the irregular practices of the war. As the defence puts up a strong fight in the courtroom, the trial does not progress as smoothly as expected by the General Staff.

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Breaker Morant is a 1980 Australian war drama film directed by Bruce Beresford, who co-wrote the screenplay based on Kenneth G. Ross's 1978 play of the same name.The film concerns the 1902 court martial of lieutenants Harry Morant, Peter Handcock and George Witton—one of the first war crime prosecutions in British military history. Australians serving in the British Army during the Second Anglo-Boer War, Morant, Handcock, and Witton stood accused of murdering captured enemy combatants and an unarmed civilian in the Northern Transvaal. The film is notable for its exploration of the Nuremberg Defence, the politics of the death penalty and the human cost of total war. As the trial unfolds, the events in question are shown in flashbacks.In 1980, the film won ten Australian Film Institute Awards including: Best Film, Best Direction, Leading Actor, Supporting Actor, Screenplay, Art Direction, Cinematography, and Editing. It was also nominated for the 1980 Academy Award for the Best Writing (Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium).Breaker Morant remains the movie with which Beresford is most identified and has "hoisted the images of the accused officers to the level of Australian icons and martyrs". In a 1999 interview Beresford explained that Breaker Morant "never pretended for a moment" that the defendants were not guilty as charged. He had intended the film to explore how wartime atrocities can be "committed by people who appear to be quite normal". Beresford concluded that he was "amazed" that so many people see his film as being about "poor Australians who were framed by the Brits".
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