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Before coming to America to make such acclaimed films as Tender Mercies and Driving Miss Daisy, Australian director Bruce Beresford made a lasting impression with this compelling courtroom drama, considered one the finest films of the Australian new wave of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Based on a true story about three soldiers in the Boer War who are served up as political scapegoats of the British Empire, the film uses a flashback structure to dramatize the courtroom testimony. It begins when the three Australian soldiers are railroaded for the justified killing of a German missionary and placed on trial for court-martial not as a matter of justice, but to mollify the German government for the sake of political expediency. Burdened with a competent but inexperienced and hopelessly disadvantaged lawyer, the soldiers realize that their fate has been sealed and the outcome of their trial is a fait accompli. Unfolding with urgent precision and a riveting focus on its well-drawn characters, Breaker Morant was the all-time box-office hit in Australia at the time of its release in 1980, and it remains one of the very best historical dramas ever made. --Jeff Shannon
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Top customer reviews
This review is for the blu-ray transfer only and not the film itself. The blu-ray version of Breaker Morant is just okay, not great. The level of detail is acceptable, though not as crisp as most blu-ray transfers. The colors are strong, but there is a considerable amount of specks and "noise" on the film. It does not appear that it was digitally remastered.
The sound has some issues, too. In certain indoor scenes, it sounds like the characters are talking in a box. But this may have been the way the movie was filmed and not a problem with the blu-ray per se.
My rating of four stars is for the movie. If I were only rating the blu-ray transfer, I would give it three stars. Nevertheless, this is best edition of the film available. It is an upgrade from the DVD.
The good news is that this is a decent 16x9 transfer. The bad news is that special features are minimal: a 30 second radio spot, and a documentary on the Boer War, both of which were incredibly boring; I've had more fun watching grass grow. Normally, I'd say that it's worth upgrading from dvd, but current prices for this movie (even the dvd versions) are ridiculous. So while this is a very good film, I'd recommend waiting for a reissue, unless you've got serious cash to burn. If you have no version of this movie at all (and are willing to spend the exorbitant sums vendors are asking for it), I'd say buy the Masterworks dvd edition, because the A/V quality, while not at the level of Blu-ray, is still very good, and the special features far more interesting.
Although there is some action, this movie is first and foremost a courtroom drama. The casting, both in the lead and supporting roles, was perfect, and excellent performances were given by both. I was so impressed with Bruce Beresford's efforts in making this film that I forgive him for King David. Near the end, there is synopsis given regarding the fate of three main participants in the trial: J.F. Thomas (the defense attorney), Alfred Taylor (the intelligence officer, who likely blew the whistle on Morant and the others), and George Witton (the young Leftenant). Surprisingly, humor is plentiful, albeit often of a gallows nature.
Favorite quote (this occurs as Handcock and Morant overhear carpenters building their coffins):
Handcock (Bryan Brown): "Could've seen fit to measure us first."
Morant (Edward Woodward): "Don't suppose they've had many complaints."
I was fortunate enough to buy this Blu-ray at a time when the prices were much more reasonable. Would I spend the kind of money vendors are asking for it now? Even though I really like the movie, the answer is "no."
The story follows an actual event from the second Boer War in the early 1900's and the court martial of Harry "Breaker" Morant along with two other officers.
The story is laid out in a long series of flashbacks interspaced with the courtroom scenes. I would give it 5 stars if the dialog didn't get lost in in the audio track from time to time. That is more of an audio editing and production issue than one of content but it detracts from the overall film just enough to lose one star. There are some great quotes in this movie if you pay attention.
If you are a law student and you've never seen Breaker Morant - get some beers, gather your fellow students and watch it!
Yes, there's 3 defendants and only one defense attorney, get over it; it's still a good drama!