Release – 1987
The Lighthorsemen followed in the wake of other Australian New Wave war movies like Breaker Morant and Gallipoli and really plays on the recurring themes you’ll find amongst them such as the Australian ideals known as ‘mateship’ and ‘larrikinism’ in which we see people stick together despite their background and often character, though perhaps mischievous will always have good hearts. This film however differs in the fact that it is one of the few movies out there that deals with and effectively shows the art of cavalry combat, specifically during world war I.
The story revolves around an Australian light horse unit who were involved in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign during the Battle of Beersheeba which was fought on Halloween of 1917. The 4th Light Horse Brigade fight hard to achieve what a stunning 60,000 odd infantry men simply were not able to do, they break through enemy lines of infantry in order to free the city from the opposition. Conditions are bleak during the battle, water and provisions are scares and the heat is scorching, causing issues not only for the soldiers but the horses too. You can expect exciting and tense battle scenes with a final push that have you on the edge of your seat with your heart beating faster than the thunder of the cavalry’s hooves. Again, this is based on true events with most of the characters being based on real people who were present for this monumental moment in Australia’s military history.
The Odd Angry Shot
Release – 1979
Unlike most of the other films on the list The Odd Angry Shotis set during the Vietnam War of the late 60s and gives us a rarely seen insight into the role of the Australian forces during the conflict. It follows a unit of SAS regiment soldiers who encounter the truths of war. We see them experience the horrors of it, the firefights, the booby traps, having to endure terrifying mortar barrages from an enemy they can’t see. We see them having to deal with internal politics, they gather intelligence, retake land only to have to give it up whilst battling the bureaucracy and obstinance of the hierarchy of the conventional military. Not only that be we see another side, the long waits, the crippling monotony of camp life, tedious long-range patrols and even ambushes and raids the surmount to nothing at all. In the end we see the soldiers return home and we get an idea of how the entire experience has changed them, though they are of course glad to leave the experience behind them. This war film is a psychological study with moments of action and even of comedy and has a real genuine approach to what these soldiers must have gone through. It’s based on a book of the same name which was written by William Nagel.