2015 is a big year for celebrating the history of our armed services as it commemorates 100 years since the Gallipoli landing. To celebrate the centenary Channel 9 aired this 7-part TV mini-series called Gallipoli, a series which has now been released on Blu-Ray.
Gallipoli tells the story of the greatest invasion in the history of warfare was to become a diabolical failure – an eight-month siege where the bravery of Anzac troops was squandered. But in doing so a legend, and a nation, were born.
As dawn breaks on April 25, 1915, ANZAC troops go into battle on the beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula. Landing in the dark chaos, Tolly, Bevan and their mates struggle to establish a tenuous foothold on the treacherous slopes and deep ravines. They endure the next eight months on the peninsula learning lessons of survival. By the time of the final evacuation they have also learned the skills of combat and what it means to be a young man in war.
Admittedly after watching the first episode of Gallipoli, which runs for a lengthy 77 minutes instead of the typical 45 minute episodes, I was left somewhat, well, disappointed. Unlike most war films and TV series there is no time to get to know the characters throguh their home life or training, but you're just thrown into battle and have to pick up characters as the battle unfolds. Unfortnately for Channel 9 the number of viewers plummeted to the point where they dumped the series with double episodes to finish it off. Those that stuck with it however would have discovered a great series with each episode often focusing on different aspects of the Gallipoli campaign.
There is no doubt this is a pretty gruesome series in places, but nothing that the real soldiers wouldn't have seen themselves. In the second episode a truce is called between the fighting forces to collect the dead in no mans land. Here, bodies are dismembered, limbs and heads piled up and maggots even eating the rotting flesh. It's gruesome, gut-wrenching, but shows the true horrors of war. Nothing is more gut-wrenching however then the waves of soldiers sent over the trenches only to be mown down by the Turkish machine gunners laying in wait in the opposing trenches at The Nek. It was a battle where 372 Australian soldiers lost their lives or were wounded and only, reportedly, 8 Turkish solders were casualties.
Gallipoli is presented on Blu-Ray with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is a pretty decent experience however it isn't the most bombastic soundtrack ever. Still, when you're talking about warfare 100 years ago the battlefields weren't filled with massive machine guns and powerful explosives. No, the guns of the era were rifles, and grenades and machine guns were still in their infancy. Don't get me wrong, when the battles take place the soundfield comes to life, it's just not as impactful as a modern day war film.
At all times the dialogue is crystal clear, and even in the heat of battle there are no issues understanding what is being said - or shouted. During these battles too the surround sound channels burst to life with bullets whizzing past and explosions filling the room.
The only other audio track is an Audio Descriptive track for the Vision Impaired which is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 224kbps. As expected the downgrade to 2 channel heavily compressed, audio means some of the clarity is lost, and of course the surround sound is missing during the battles when the whizzing of bullets really adds atmosphere to the experience.
This Blu-Ray release of Gallipoli includes only a single subtitle track, Descriptive Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired. We sampled this track through various points in the series and it was always accurate to the on-screen dialogue.
Sadly this release is devoid of extras besides a single audio commentary. While great, it would have been nice to have a few more commentaries, or perhaps a few other extras.
Episode 1 Audio Commentary with Dr. Dayton McCarthy, Historical and Military Advisor: This is quite a decent commentary, in fact I would say essential for anyone looking for more information about the actual campaign and while this commentary focuses on the original beach landing and initial phases of the campaign.
Review By: Dave Warner