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Series / Gallipoli (2015)

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Some day we will understand.

"Gallipoli, the war that got away from its handlers. If it made more sense, it would be a lesser story...."
Thomas "Tolly" Johnson

Gallipoli (2015) is an Australian-produced mini-series made and released for the 100th-year anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign. Seven episodes long, it detailed the stories of the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, as well as the controversial political war being fought between their commanders and the public press.

A young Australian called Thomas "Tolly" Johnson (''Kodi Smit-McPhee), enlists into the ANZAC alongside his brother Bevan Johnson and their friends Dave Klein and Cliff Sutton from the same town, heading towards the fateful battle that shaped their nation's history, as well as losing their innocence and maybe even their lives to a pointless struggle.

Sir Ian Hamilton (John Bach), a distinguished senior officer in the British Army and the appointed commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force whose staff operates off the coast of Gallipoli. He is confident in the coming victory over the Ottomans, but as the months wade by, he realises that his victory may be completely out of his reach, not to mention that his enemies may be even closer to him than he thinks....

A veteran English journalist, Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett (James Callis) lands on the peninsula only to witness the beginnings of a hopeless battle for the British. His critical views of the war eventually makes him an enemy to High Command, who will stop at nothing to censor all attempts to sabotage the campaign, but Bartlett is determined to reveal the truth to the public, before the bodies of young men continue to pile up.

The series provides examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Limbs are frequently lost by explosions throughout the series.
  • Anyone Can Die: Many named characters can and do get killed, often very suddenly without any fanfare.
  • Bayonet Ya: Commonly used by both sides given the nature of trench warfare. Tolly's first kill was with one on the first day of the landing.
  • Big Brother Instinct: While Bevan definitely has one for his younger brother, Tolly himself inverts this when he joins up just to be with him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The campaign is lost, and the British forces retreat without any victory over the campaign, but Tolly and Dave survive their last days on the peninsula and manage to successfully evacuate with the remaining ANZAC forces. Although the epilogue of the series almost paints it as a Downer Ending, as it mentions that most of the ANZACs who survived the Gallipoli Campaign would end up being redeployed to the Western Front anyway, where many, many more perished.
  • Boom, Headshot!: A common occurrence throughout, given the amount of snipers employed by both sides. Captain Taylor, Cliffy all meet their end this way.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Cliffy loves to engage in these even in the heat of a firefight.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Gen. Hamilton has two in a row, one where he appears to be drowning which when he wakes up afterwards to see an apparition of Keith Murdoch.
  • Cold Sniper: Billy Sing, and Tolly's mentor in the art of sniping. Tolly himself slowly becomes one starting from The Deeper Scar.
  • Child Soldier: Tolly himself is one, as he lied about his age to enlist when he was seventeen. Truth in Television for many soldiers in World War One.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: A tragic one happens at the Nek, when the Ottoman forces completely blow four waves of the completely unprepared Light Horsemen. Even the Turkish officer present is appalled at the senseless waste of life displayed by the British.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Averted. The Australian Light Horsemen are relegated to banal trench duties on foot when they are assigned to Gallipoli while leaving their horses behind, much to the amusement and mockery of their infantry counterparts.
  • Field Promotion: Tolly gets one for disabling a Turkish machinegun nest, but is reluctant to take it as it would make him a higher rank than his brother. He doesn't get a choice in the matter anyway.
  • Friendly Enemy: After the armistice, the ANZACs and the Ottoman troops begin to respect and recognise another to the point where they start to exchange friendly gestures and compliments to one another. A friendly duel breaks out between the Turks and the Aussies as boredom sets in; in the form of waving shovels over the trenches and baiting the other side to hit them.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Battle of Gallipoli will become a tale of bitter defeat for the British Empire and their ANZAC colonial troops, with thousands of men dying for no venerable gains to show for it.
  • Graceful Loser: Commander Hamilton, when he is relieved of his command over at Gallipoli. He simply packs up and thanks the GHQ staff, despite knowing that most of them stabbed him in the back. He does go off with a few jabs at them though.
  • General Failure: The high command at the Gallipoli campaign are portrayed as these. Commander Ian Hamilton is portrayed as a well-meaning, but flawed leader who insists he can win the battle despite the staggering losses and zero progress.
    • But all of the above pales in comparison to the portrayal of one of his subordinates, General Stopford, whom appears to be more concerned with the heat and his sore leg than actually leading his troops into battle.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: Cliffy apparently has some skill with throwing grenades, which comes in handy when a Turkish hand grenade drops into their trench and he manages to toss it back out in the nick of time without panicking.
  • Hidden Depths: Cliffy, whom despite his overtly cheerful nature and snarky disposition, he is inside a God-fearing man who manages to expresses his opinion over the concept of hell to Tolly.
  • Historical Domain Character: Many key figures of the actual battle appears in the series as side characters.
  • Heroic BSoD: Many characters get this at some point.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The Australian Light Horse and Infantry soldier initially have one, but as the campaign goes on, they evolve to become more like Bash Brothers.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, a seasoned wartime journalist who will step over all political boundaries and military censorship just to report the truth, that is the failing nature of the campaign.
  • Ironic Echo: "The first blow is half the battle. Don't forget that."
  • Jump Scare: Tolly has one when he sees an apparition of the Grim Reaper in one of his nightmares.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Captain Taylor and later on, Cliffy
    Captain Taylor: "Right then! LET'S SHOW THESE TURKS -" *gets a bullet in the neck*
    Cliffy: "I don't care what they say. These guys are good blokes. Fair dinku-" *Boom, Headshot!*
  • Kubrick Stare: Tolly provides one for the cover art of the series.
  • Language Barrier: There is one for most of the Turks and British forces, save for a few Turk officers with a good grasp of the English language.
  • Last Stand: The New Zealand regiment at the heights is last seen fighting in hand-to-hand combat with the Turks due to lack of ammunition and reinforcements, before going out in a blaze of British artillery.
  • Laughing Mad: Captain Anthony Chandler falls into bitter laughter in response to the Army's Medical Services official orders regarding how to cope with flies and the spread of disease: home made fly-paper.
  • Loud of War
    • In My Friend, the Enemy, an Ottoman assault on the Australian trench is preceded by Turkish patriotic band music.
    • In The Breakout, an Ottoman regiment spends at least one night overhearing the nearby New Zealander troops yelling their traditional Haka chants over the trenches. Needless to say, they were a bit unnerved.
      *in Turkish* Turkish soldier: What is that?
      Turkish Officer: (Beat)...... Cannibals.
  • Man on Fire: Several British troops at the Suvla Bay landing gets incinerated when an ill-timed artillery strike on their sector lights up the dry bush surrounding the landing area.
  • Mercy Kill: A Turkish officer performs one to a mortally wounded Stewie when he is the only soldier to actually reach the Ottoman trench during the Light Horsesmen's failed assault on the Nek.
  • Motor Mouth: Cliffy, to the annoyance of his friend Dave.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • In My Friend, the Enemy, an armistice is called between the Turks and the ANZACs for collecting their dead, which gives the soldiers on both sides some downtime to mingle with one another. It comes as a revelation to some that their enemies are also people with families, friends and similar beliefs.
    • In The Earth Abides, Tolly is astonished when Dave tells him that both sides (i.e Christians and Muslims) technically pray to the same God, abielt in different ways.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In Breakout, the ANZACs clocks were not synchronized with those of the Royal Navy which ends with the latter ending their artillery barrage too early, giving the Ottomans time to regroup and reoccupy their trenches. Despite the clear failure of the first wave, the attack goes on and on.... and as a result the entire Australian Light Horse Regiment at the Nek is wiped out by machinegun fire in a pointless attack netting no gains whatsoever.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Due to his numerous attempts to get past the military censors, Gallipoli high command sends Bartlett and the rest of his journalist crew to the nearby Greek island of Imbros. Away from actually seeing the conflict and under the watchful eyes of Braithwaite. It doesn't take Bartlett much to circumvent this eventually.
  • Sadistic Choice: In The First Day, Tolly has to choose to either help his friends, or abandon a wounded ANZAC choking on his own blood. He goes off to assist his friends, essentially dooming the poor ANZAC to a painful death.
  • Sergeant Rock: Seargent Harry Percival, who frequently acts as a runner to his superiors and is highly regarded by the men under him.
  • Shellshocked Veteran: Most of the young ANZACs would become this by the last episode. Even the reporter Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett is one, revealing in one episode that he had covered six previous wars, hence recognizing the tragedy Gallipoli was doomed to become.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: In My Friend, the Enemy, a Turkish soldier with little command of English innocently asks Bevan if "Bastard" is the name of their God.note  Bevan just shrugs and agrees.
  • Sniper Duel: Tolly has a few duels with other Turkish snipers during his brief time as one.
  • War Is Hell: The series unflinchingly shows horrific the Gallipoli Campaign was, with large numbers of men dying over small gains and losses and commanders showing no real concern for the well-being of those they were supposed to lead.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The series takes moments to remind the protagonists that their enemies are not faceless monsters, but human beings like themselves.
    • In The Deeper Scar, Tolly swiftly eliminates three Turkish officers and a nearby guard. When he investigates to confirm his kills, he sees the body of the young Turkish soldier he befriended two episodes ago.
  • We Have Reserves: During the negotiations for the conditions of a ceasefire, the Turkish Colonel disagrees with some of the terms leading Briathwraite to remind him that there are more Turkish bodies to bury than the British. The colonel replies, "Sadly General, many more (to come)."
  • Worthy Opponent: The ANZACs and the Ottomans come to see one another as these eventually. During the final evacuation, many soldiers are seen leaving drinks and letters behind for their enemies.
    Note under whiskey bottle: "FOR A GOOD TURK"

"... Perhaps that's why after longer and more important battles are forgotten, it lingers in our imagination."