A promising track star's running career is interrupted by Australia's entrance into World War I. Archie is an excellent candidate for the Olympics but nonetheless abandons his athletic pursuits in order to do the patriotic thing and sign up to join the ill-fated, true-to-life attempt to capture Istanbul from the might of the Turkish army.
Here, like All Quiet On The Western Front and countless other observers of The Great War’s great losses, is a study of the illusory and real forces that propel dreamy young men into the fields of conflict. This is as much a matter of comradeship — there are whispers here of a homoerotic bond between the two heroes — as duty, men drawn to stand alongside each other. And Weir portrays this strange calling as an intimate elegy, shot with both candour and an fascinating counterpoint between the expanse of the Outback and the limits of the hot trenches, that reveals his unerring talent for opening up the sad hearts of men.
Rarely has the futility of war been so brilliantly presented.
Reviewed by Ian Nathan