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An earnest problem drama, about three Australian soldiers who are court-martialed for brutality during the Boer War (1979, 107 min.). Bruce Beresford's film was based on a successful stage play, and the theatrical structure is clear and rigid throughout. The film handles difficult issues of wartime morality, with clear parallels to the American experience in Vietnam, but Beresford's direction is so placid, distanced, and methodical that the film never admits any doubt or debate; it tends to seal up the issues rather than liberate them. A secondary theme is Australia's victimization at the hands of the British Empire; the film there acquires the whiny, self-pitying tone that seems inevitable whenever Australian filmmakers think about Australian history. The performances are solid, professional, and never very interesting. With Edward Woodward, Jack Thompson, and Bryan Brown.

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