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Breaker Morant (1980)

'Breaker' Morant (original title)
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0:55 | Trailer
Three Australian lieutenants are court martialed for executing prisoners as a way of deflecting attention from war crimes committed by their superior officers.

Director:

Bruce Beresford

Writers:

Jonathan Hardy (screenplay by), David Stevens (screenplay by) | 4 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Woodward ... Harry 'Breaker' Morant
Jack Thompson ... Major J.F. Thomas
John Waters ... Cpt. Alfred Taylor
Bryan Brown ... Lt. Peter Handcock
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell ... Lt. Col. Denny (as Charles Tingwell)
Terence Donovan Terence Donovan ... Cpt. Simon Hunt
Vincent Ball Vincent Ball ... Col. Ian (Johnny) Hamilton
Ray Meagher ... Sar. Maj. Drummond
Chris Haywood ... Cpl. Sharp
Russell Kiefel Russell Kiefel ... Christiaan Botha
Lewis Fitz-Gerald ... Lt. George Witton
Rod Mullinar ... Major Charles Bolton
Alan Cassell Alan Cassell ... Lord Kitchener
Rob Steele Rob Steele ... Cpt. Robertson
Chris Smith Chris Smith ... Cameron Sergeant
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Storyline

During the Boer War, three Australian lieutenants are on trial for shooting Boer prisoners. Though they acted under orders, they are being used as scapegoats by the General Staff, who hopes to distance themselves from the irregular practices of the war. The trial does not progress as smoothly as expected by the General Staff, as the defence puts up a strong fight in the courtroom. Written by Kasper Sevaj <kaspsev@dorit.ihi.ku.dk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When they speak of heroes - of villains - of men who look for action, who choose between honor and revenge - they tell the story of Breaker Morant See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia

Language:

English | Afrikaans

Release Date:

3 July 1980 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Breaker Morant See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

AUD650,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Edward Woodward received top / first billing, Jack Thompson received second billing. See more »

Goofs

During the Morant trial, a military band is heard playing Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1." The march was premiered in England in October 1901, and it is very unlikely that an arrangement for military band was available less than two months later when the trial took place. It wasn't until later in 1902 that the words "Land of Hope and Glory" became permanently wedded to the tune. See more »

Quotes

Major Thomas: Tell me, Mr. Robertson what was Lt Hancock's reason for putting Boer prisoners on open cattle cars on the trains.
Capt. Robertson: Well the Boers had been mining the lines and blowing up a lot of trains. He thought it might stop them.
Major Thomas: Well did it?
[Robertson looks at the prosecutor]
Major Thomas: Did it?
Capt. Robertson: Yes, but I don't think...
[he's interrupted]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Introducing Lewis Fitz-Gerald as George Witton See more »

Connections

Referenced in 20 to 1: 80's Good, Bad & Ugly (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

The Minstrel Boy
(uncredited)
Traditional - Irish
Written by Thomas Moore
Arranged by Eric Cook and his Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Well worth seeing.
24 January 2012 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"Breaker Morant" is set during the Boer War--a particularly ugly war fought in South Africa around the turn of the 20th century. Both the Boers (Dutch South African farmers) and the British committed a lot of nasty atrocities and many of the standards conduct during warfare were violated in the course of this war. Concentration camps, a scorched earth policy and the like were used to subdue the Boers.

In this film, three Commonwealth soldiers from Australia are up on charges for war crimes--they are charged with executing prisoners and the like. While the defendants do not deny doing this, the problem is that this was common practice and those in command heartily approved--at least until word of the atrocities leaked. Now, to maintain the facade of civility, the three soldiers are being prosecuted--scapegoats despite doing exactly what they were expected to do. This is based, on part, on a real case--though how closely they stick to the original is uncertain.

While most of the film takes place during the court martials, through flashbacks you see many of the events that led up to the trials. Some of the behavior of the men seemed incredibly savage (such as shooting prisoners who had surrendered on their own) and much of their actions seemed to make sense in light of the guerrilla warfare being committed against them. Regardless, what is clear is that the court really seems to want nothing more than to make examples of these men.

Not surprisingly, "Breaker Morant" struck a chord with many who fought in Vietnam and recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like the Boer War, soldiers had no idea who was and was not the enemy and vague or politically motivated rules of engagement made fighting very difficult. The parallels are many--making this story rather timeless. This, the excellent writing and acting make for a very good film--one well worth seeing--even if it is a bit stagy (belying its roots as a play).


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