'Breaker' Morant

"Excellent"

'Breaker' Morant Review


Before there was Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth!" outburst in A Few Good Men, there was the firey Edward Woodward as an Australian soldier during the Boer War (South Africa, 1899 to 1902). Like Jack, Woodward is on trial for murder -- in this case of Boer guerillas, executed possibly under the implicit orders of the Aussie government. Now a scapeoat, Woodward's "Breaker" Morant is asked to defend his actions. His explanation -- "We caught 'em and we shot 'em under rule 303!" -- is one of cinema's most undernoticed and passionate speeches. The camera cuts away to show us exactly what rule 303 is: The caliber of the rifles used by Morant's division.

Heavy stuff, and though most of the based-on-a-play Morant plays out in holding cells and the courtroom, as a court martial determines the guilt of Morant and two of his compatriots (including Brian Brown in an early role), it's still compelling and fascinating stuff. Morant is a genuine bastard, but he's just following orders and trying to win a war. It's the same argument that we'd see in umpteen Nazi films (and understanding the intricacies of the Boer conflict is probably a fool's errand), but Woodward's Morant makes for a troubling and complex anti-hero. He's aided amicably by Jack Thompson, playing the three lieutenants' good-hearted but ultimately ineffective attorney. (Also of note, this film was director Bruce Beresford's big break. He'd come to Hollywood shortly after Morant hit.)

Morant's last words in the film will spoil the ending for those of you who haven't seen it, so feel free to stop reading and start watching if you're new to the movie. (Hey, it's 25 years old and the 100-year-old story is true, so don't blame me too harshly.) But anyway, Morant's line, "Shoot straight, you bastards -- don't make a mess of it!" stands as a second awesome soliloquy in a scene full of memorable, small moments. Check it out.



'Breaker' Morant

Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 3rd July 1980

Distributed by: Live Home Video

Production compaines: 7 Network, Pact Productions, The Australian Film Commission

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 21

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Lt. Harry 'Breaker' Morant, as Major J.F. Thomas, as Captain Alfred Taylor, as Lt. Peter Handcock, as Captain Simon Hunt, as Col. Ian 'Johnny' Hamilton, as Sargeant Major Drummond, as Corporal Sharp, as Christiaan Botha, as Lt. George Ramsdale Witton, as Major Charles Bolton, Alan Cassell as Lord Horatio Kitchener, Rob Steele as Captain Robertson, as Sargeant Cameron, Bruno Knez as Reverend H.V.C. Hess, John Pfitzner as Boer Leader, as Dr. Johnson, Michael Procanin as Visser, Ray Ball as Court Reporter, Wayne Bell as Lt. Reed, Halifa Cisse as Black Guide, Norman Currer as Boer Singer, Bridget Cornish as Hunt's Sister, Judy Dick as Mrs. Shiels, Barbara West as Mrs. Vanderberg, Ria Erskine as Boer Girl, Ian Gray as B/M Thomas, Sylvia Horseman as Boer Pianist, Dick Henderson as Captain Nicholson, Alan Lovett as Scots Sentry, Trevor Mann as B/M Little, Jon Nicholls as Lt. Baxter, Peter Osborn as Minister, Ron Peterson as Feist, Don Quin as Witton's Father, Maria Reed as Boer Girl, Ron Rodger as English Orderly, Nellie Seidel as Boer Girl, Laurie Walton as Judge Advocate, Hank Bernard as Large Boer, Elspeth Radford as Handcock's Wife, Bud Tingwell as Lt. Col. Denny


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