The 6th film in Ogunquit Performing Arts’ 18th Annual Classic Film Series is the award-winning Australian film, “Breaker Morant”. The film will be screened on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 2 pm at the Dunaway Center, 23 School Street, Ogunquit.
The 1980 film is a dramatic, controversial war film, compellingly directed by Bruce Beresford and starring British actor Edward Woodward. The film inspires audience sympathy for its three, soldier protagonists, who are in fact guilty of the act for which they are condemned. Beresford shaped the story to place the focus not on their guilt or innocence but on the far more universal theme of the extreme acts soldiers are driven to commit and the two-faced military politics of the time.
The film is based on an actual incident from the Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902), in which three Australian soldiers fighting on the side of the British wee court-martialed for executing enemy prisoners. The film also stars Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson.
Acting under orders from British high command during a brutal guerrilla war, Harry “Breaker” Morant and his fellow soldiers in the Australian Bushveldt Carbineers exact revenge for the murder and mutilation of one of their officers by the Boers, (South African farmers of Dutch descent revolting against the British in the century’s first colonial war.) Several Boer prisoners and a German missionary the trio believe to be a spy are killed. Because the British are aware Germany is looking for an excuse to enter the war on the side of the Boers (to position themselves favorably for access to South Africa’s gold and diamond resources), the command orders the three Australians to be brought to trial as scapegoats, denying the deaths were ever part of an official but covert military policy.
“Breaker Morant” won several Australian Film Institute Awards, as well as many nominations in other countries. It was also a commercial success, paving the way for subsequent Australian films which became widely popular in the 1980’s. The film was favorably compared to Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory”, and resonated especially with American audiences, identifying their recent experiences with the Viet Nam war.
Following his success with “Breaker Morant”, Bruce Beresford went on to become a sought-after director, directing such hit films in the U.S. as Tender Mercies (1983), which netted Beresford the Golden Palm at Cannes, an Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Actor (Robert Duvall), and Driving Miss Daisy (1989), an Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Actress Jessica Tandy and Best Adapted Screenplay (by Alfred Uhry).
Equally important to the film’s success were the fine and affecting performances of its leads. British actor Edward Woodward, who later appeared in the American TV series The Equalizer (1985), plays Morant as an essentially honest and decent man, whose flaws are exacerbated by war. Australian star Bryan Brown went on to great success in America in the TV mini-series The Thorn Birds (1983) and the thriller F/X (1986). Australian actor Jack Thompson won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor and the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “Breaker Morant.”
Join us for this extraordinary, powerful and absorbing film! “Breaker Morant” will be screened on Sunday, April 7, 2019, at 2 pm at the Dunaway Center, 23 School Street in Ogunquit. The film is shown on a full wall-size screen; admission, parking, and popcorn are free!