Set in Vietnam in 1966, this ambitious Australian war film examines the events leading up to 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers triumphantly battling over 2000 North Vietnamese in a muddy rubber plantation called Long Tan.
Based on true events, the soldiers were mainly conscripts aged around 20, most of whom had never experienced combat. A major described working with these young men as ‘breastfeeding a bunch of kids’ whilst these soldiers adversely believed that their seniors ‘don’t give a shit about us!’
Realistic and bloody battle sequences resonate the carnage and futility of war in this realistically executed production which boasts an impressive Australian cast led by Richard Roxburgh.
Is it honourable to disobey orders on the battlefield when death lingers in the mind of soldiers as they fight for their country? Is it discouraging to ‘dream of going home and forgetting all this’ when victory is at stake?
Trust, mateship, honour and the depersonalising effects of war are themes explored in this film, which also highlights the pressures of making split second decisions which may result in the possibility of losing a whole company of men.
The question which will ultimately anger audiences is, why did it take the Australian government 45 years to justifiably classify these soldiers as courageous war heroes? (MMo)