Breaker Morant

Since it was the day before a holiday, I was motivated to get a lot done. I spent the morning grading a lot of papers. I started thinking about the end of the semester. I had a late lunch at Bongo Burger, and I spilled some food on my shirt in the manner of Billy Beane. After I was done with my late lecture, I went out into the cold to return home, and I watched the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of “Breaker Morant.” It was the product of a good period of Australian film, and the director was Bruce Beresford. The major stars were Edward Woodward, Bryan Brown, and Jack Thompson, and they were all very good in this film. Woodward was strong, although maybe he was melodramatic in talking about Rule 303, and I hated his poetry. Another military figure we heard reading poetry was George C. Scott as Patton. Fortunately, we didn’t have to hear Patton sing. I seem to remember Bryan Brown as a movie special effects man in a later movie. The setting is 1902, when three Australian Army officers were serving in South Africa when they were arrested for murder. “Breaker Morant” was a courtroom drama, and I think at this point we’ve seen too many of those. However, some interesting aspects of this one is that the men are being made into scapegoats, sacrificed to bring about the end of the Boer War, and there is also an underdog aspect with the lawyer, who is thrown into the situation at the last minute. I thought that Jack Thompson wasn’t totally convincing in fumbling with his papers in the first scene in the courtroom. Viewers are more perceptive than some actors and directors think. Some of the twists and turns in the case are dramatic, like the appearance of Colonel Hamilton to give false testimony, and the incident with the missionary. The discussion of a new type of war was still meaningful 35 years after this movie was released. The case develops in a way that gives us hope for these men. I think that most people watching this movie didn’t interpret this movie as symbolic of Vietnam. I think that most people thought of the three individuals facing injustice. It didn’t matter that they were soldiers, and weren’t totally innocent. Bryan Brown’s behavior in the trial early on seemed like it would mean the death of everyone. I wouldn’t want to sit next to a man who couldn’t control his mouth in that situation. The movie was photographed and edited effectively. The close-ups at the end of the trial were powerful. The last part of the movie made me think back to “In Cold Blood,” also in this movie there was a bit of dark humor. Morant was given a chance to escape to Portugal, but his code of honor wouldn’t allow him to take it. I don’t think that I could face death with anything resembling calm. Some of the scenic shots looked beautiful, although they didn’t inspire me to plan my next vacation to Australia, where this film was apparently shot. Looking through the filming location information in IMDB, I did not see any mention of South Africa. The trial scenes were filmed at Norwood, South Australia. Since this was a low budget film, I suspected Beresford didn’t pack up the crew to film on another continent. Woodward would become known of many people as The Equalizer in the television show of years past, and it was almost shocking to see him in this film as a fairly young man. Beresford would go on to direct “Tender Mercies” and “Driving Miss Daisy,” but I think that this is my favorite film of his. This film has emotion and purpose to it that makes it rise above the general level of movie releases. There are moments when the high definition of this edition is noticeable, especially when we’re looking at Jack Thompson’s face. It filled the screen of my television set and looked good. The last scene takes place at dawn, and it suggested eternity in the colorful sky. Some of the special features of the disc were an audio commentary track with Bruce Beresford, an interview with Edward Woodward, and a 1973 documentary called “The Breaker.” The term breaker in the title, by the way, refers to horses. Two of the other Australian directors I remember from this time were Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong. “Breaker Morant” made me feel tired with all its tension and sadness, and I fell asleep for a while. I caught the end of the Columbo episode “Identity Crisis,” which featured Patrick McGoohan and Leslie Nielsen. McGoohan thought that he was smart, but he blurted out something that gave away a deception. I’m not sure that it was enough for a conviction, however. Barbara Rhoades was in the episode as a photographer. McGoohan tried to give Columbo ten dollars to pay for gasoline, but Columbo gave the money back, which indicated that McGoohan was in deep trouble. Patrick McGoohan was the director of the episode. I stayed up to watch the beginning of the Night Gallery episode that followed. It was called “The Ghost of Sorworth Place,” and Richard Kiley and Jill Ireland were in it. Jill Ireland looked so young at the time. The morning was cold, and I didn’t want to get up out of bed. I heard on the news that one of the Raiders, Ray-Ray Armstrong, was in legal trouble for taunting a police dog. I somehow don’t think that he’ll be getting seven years in prison for his foolish act. He should have concentrated on winning the game. I was so very glad that it was a holiday, and that I didn’t have to go to work. I am certainly grateful to the veterans for this day, which helps me get through the week in one piece. I rearranged my Blu-ray discs, grouping together the Criterion Collection discs, and also the movies that won the Best Picture Oscar, like “Gone with the Wind” and “Forrest Gump.” The sun was slow to warm up the apartment, and it was good that I had extra time to eat some food. Some of the people who died on November 11 include Soren Kierkegaard (1855), Dmitri Tiomkin (1979), Delbert Mann (2007), and Dino De Laurentis (2010). Today is a birthday for Demi Moore (53) and Stanley Tucci (55). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for November 11, Elvis Presley released his 40th album, “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is,” in 1970. In 1975, the Earth, Wind & Fire album “Gratitude” was released. Donna Summer had the Number One single “MacArthur Park” in 1978. In 1985, “Ernest Saves Christmas” was released. In 1994, “Interview with the Vampire” was released. In 1995, the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” reached Number One on the album chart. In 1997, Metallica performed a free concert at the CoreStates Complex parking lot in Philadelphia.

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