Keeva Stratton fromÂ Quip Creative
Beneath Hill 60 (2010)
Directed by: Jeremy Sims
Written by: David Roach
Starring: Brendan Cowell, Gyton Grantley, Bella Heathcoate
Beneath Hill 60 unearths and presents us with a long-buried, true, Australian War story of a group of Aussie miners who were sent to the Western Front in World War 1. Charged with the task of tunneling through the near impossible conditions of Hill 60, the tale of these men is a gripping account of the bravery and sheer insanity of war.
The film takes you to a world below the horrors of the battlefield, into a new claustrophobic hell; wet, airless and dripping with inescapable fear. It immerses you deep into war\’s foulest being, unveiling the death, the blood and the dirt that was endured by these young men for a tortuous stretch of time.
Through the miners\’ eyes, this story offers a new lens through which to explore a War that is so often drawn upon to buttress and affirm Australia\’s values and mores. This new lens offers a fresh perspective that will be appreciated by an audience no longer willing to stomach overt glorification. With the antecedent trail of battle-brave Aussie war epics thankfully diverted, here is a film that utilises a powerfully nuanced approach to dealing with this grim subject matter â€“ an appropriately harsh account of war that shows empathy to both sides.
Brendan Cowell â€“ as Captain Oliver Woodward â€“ leads an impressive Aussie cast that manages to imbue the Diggers with warmth, humour and dignity. Gyton Grantley\’s Norm â€˜Pull Through\’ Morris is the kind of quirky character who you\’d be unsure about being underground with, offering a foil equal to Steve Le Marquand\’s bold and boisterous Bill Fraser. But it is the shivering, wailing Tiffin (played by Harrison Gilbertson), just 15 years old, who strikes us at the core of the tragedy, and it is Tiffen who reminds us of Woodward\’s humanity and warmth throughout these hardening conditions.
Interwoven through the film are flashback sequences of North Queensland in all its glory, taking us back to the romance between Woodward and Marjorie Waddell (played by Bella Heathcote). There is a real sense of innocence in these scenes, which only serves to leaven the impact of painful reality when, as a viewer, you\’re wrenched back into the mud-filled trenches â€“ this works well initially, but towards the end, this narrative device comes to disturb the well-built tension of the underground.
Beneath Hill 60 avoids the tedious â€˜guts and glory\’ approach, so prevalent within its genre, and instead offers a considered, realistic depiction of the characters in war â€“ and paints a persuasive picture of the war as a gruesome character in itself. It is important viewing. In viewing this film, we now have an important and timely reminder in the lead up to ANZAC Day of the true gravity and tragedy of war.
Images courtesy of Beneath Hill 60
Category: Film & TV