To mark the 100-Year Anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli this month, the good peeps at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release a digitally re-mastered version of Peter Weir’s Gallipoli, the legendary 1981 Aussie flick starring Mark Lee and Mel Gibson. Here we take a walk down memory lane with Mark…
How does it feel getting involved with the Blu-ray release from a film that is almost 35 years old?
It’s a rare opportunity that not many people have. Most projects you work on have their time and get relegated to the past. I guess the centenary has sparked interest in this film again and it’s fascinating how people and generations have reacted to it over the years.
Do you feel some connection to the Gallipoli centenary?
Yes, in a very personal way. I had the opportunity to meet some of the veterans when we were researching it back in 1981 and that’s something you never forget.
What did the Diggers have to say about the film?
They were very polite about it but were surprised why we would want to do a film about the subject. They just couldn’t understand why anyone would want to make a film about Gallipoli. They’d spend most of their lives trying to forget.
What is your fondest memory from working on the film?
The strangest one is that it practically ended up being shot in sequence which never happens in film. The early scenes were shot first and the horse scenes were shot at the end. So in a sense, we had a journey as well. The relationship between the cast and crew, and even the extras, was quite extraordinary. We were living in each other’s pockets for a good six weeks or more, every day, and I think that’s the thing that got me – we realised we were working on something that moved people.
Describe working with legendary Aussie director Peter Weir.
It was fantastic. He has a great vision and you’d do anything for him. He’s a great actor’s director and can always pick what’s working and what’s bullshit.
Are you still in touch with any of the actors?
No. There’s been loose contact with a few people over the years but I haven’t spoken to Mel [Gibson] since about 2007.
Did being in the film change you in any way?
Yeah, we definitely got taste, the vaguest taste, of what it was like for the Diggers, although you can never ever imagine what they actually went through. Even when we spoke to the veterans it was very hard for them to even be willing to discuss it. Of course, the actual battles and conflicts were very hard for them to articulate. At the time, we watched some of the early edits of the film with them and as we hit the battles they actually became quite moved watching it.
When is the last time you watched the movie?
I caught up with it not long ago when I thought this would be on the cards. I thought I’d better refresh myself as it’d been a long time since I’d seen it.
INTERVIEW: DREW HAYWOOD
The commemorative DVD release contains interviews with director Peter Weir and lead actors, Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, plus a swag of special features including excerpts from Digger Diaries, historical maps, educational packs, History Channel information pieces, and more. A special Collector’s Edition will also be released and include a Gallipoli Journal and Two-Up Set, complete with wooden kip and two coins. Head ’em up!
THE DIGITALLY RE-MASTERED GALLIPOLI IS OUT NOW ON DVD AND, FOR THE FIRST TIME, DIGITAL HD AND BLU-RAY