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Film / The Lighthorsemen

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An Australian 1987 war film that depicts a WWI light horse unit during the 1917 battle of Battle of Beersheeba, it is based on a true story.

The movie stars Jon Blake, Peter Phelps, Tony Bonner, Bill Kerr, John Walton, Gary Sweet, and Sigrid Thornton, and was directed by Simon Wincer.

It was released on September 10, 1987 in Australia and April 8, 1988 in the US.

Several pieces of footage were re-used for the episode "Palestine, October 1917" (re-released as "Daredevils of the Desert") of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, also directed by Wincer.

Tropes for the film:

  • Badass Bandolier: This backfires (literally) when a Turkish bullet strikes an ammunition pouch on the bandolier worn across the chest of a Light Horse soldier, causing all the other pouches to spontaneously detonate.
  • Big Electric Switch: The climactic scene involves the Turkish/German force trying to blow up the wells at Beersheba before the Australians can capture them intact. Rather than the traditional Plunger Detonator, the wires are connected to a switchboard with one of these.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: The Australians propose attacking Beersheeba with a cavalry charge, a tactic that was last fashionable around the Napoleonic Wars. The last time the British Army had employed a cavalry charge was at the Battle of Omduram in 1898, and it would do so again during the Battle of Cambrai, a month after the Battle of Beersheba. The Australians figure that a charge is Crazy Enough to Work, in part because the Turks won't be expecting it. They're right.
  • The Cavalry: Of course.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The charge of the Lighthorsemen. It works because unlike a charge by infantry, the Australians' horses carry them under the arc of the Turkish artillery faster than the Turks can depress the guns, and inside the zeroed range of the Turkish riflemen's volleys (1,600 meters) more quickly than they can re-set their sights. Added to these practical advantages, the sight of the Lighthorsemen charging at their lines is so unexpected, and so primally terrifying, that the entrenched Turkish defenders are unwilling to stand their ground.
  • Home by Christmas: Discussed when a soldier snaps at the New Meat, "What do you know about the war?", the man snarks back that at least he didn't think it would be over by Christmas.
  • Job Title
  • Period Piece: Set in 1917 during World War I.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The Turkish entrenched riflemen decide on this when they realize the charging Horsemen aren't going to stop.