Starring: Brendan Cowell, Harrison Gilbertson, Steve Le Marquand
Director: Jeremy Sims
Running Time: 122 mins
Beneath Hill 60 is an Australian film about a troop of soldiers on the Western Front in World War One who are sent on a daring mission to protect an Allied tunnel system underneath German-occupied territory in an attempt to break the deadlock in 1916.
So, the interesting thing about this film is that it’s a true story, and it’s a true story about a part of the First World War that nobody really knows too much about. Personally, I wasn’t so aware of the extent of Australian involvement on the Western Front, Mel Gibson taught me that they were all in Gallipoli, and I definitely didn’t know much at all about the tunnels under no-man’s-land, and how integral a part they played in the war effort.
So, that, from a factual perspective, was the most interesting thing about this film, however its other strong point is that it has a very emotional, and successfully so, story that keeps you strongly attached to the main characters, succeeding where some of the other best war films do, in making you really care about the soldiers, making the peril of the war all the more terrifying.
And in that respect, I was thoroughly intrigued, becoming engrossed in the lives of these men fighting. However, in a war, and in a war film, some degree of proper action is necessary to really show the true horrors and brutality of the war, while also providing some entertainment, but that unfortunately didn’t happen here.
Basically, this film spends too long on the emotional side of things, and doesn’t really get its nails dirty in the grit of the actual battles of the war. Yes, there are a few battle scenes, and some exciting parts, but the majority of this film really didn’t have the action that I was expecting from it.
So, because of that, I don’t see this as a really decent war film, more a story of a few men, which could have been set in a number of scenarios, and I think that the dominating emotional element of this film is what has led me to feel like it’s a bit of an Oscar-bait film, not aiming to be an all-round strong film, just going for that sort of dramatic story that awards panels like the Academy love.
Overall, then, this gets a 7.2, because while I was impressed by its facts and history, along with the strength of its emotion, the lack of action and real grit showing the actual war means that I just don’t rank it up there with the best war films.