DVD titles are floating to the top of our Netflix queue. Breaker Morant? my husband queried. The title gives no clues. Some history book referenced it, I shrugged, struggling to recall why *this* movie was in our home. The Boer War! (1901)
The movie is based on a true story; the main character, Breaker Morant, is a folk hero in Australia. Three Australians, members of the Bushveldt Carbineers, are court-martialled by the British for shooting Boer prisoners. They don’t deny the facts but their defense is that they were following orders. Their defense attorney is given one day to prepare his case. This 1979 movie is one to watch and discuss with teenagers. What are the rules in guerilla warfare? What are war crimes? The movie didn’t bring this out, but Kitchener established the first concentration camps during this war.
“The Germans are looking for an excuse to enter the war,
on the Boer side, of course. We don’t want to give them one.
The Germans couldn’t give a damn about the Boers.
It’s the diamonds and gold of South Africa they’re interested in.”
“They lack our altruism, sir.” “Quite.”
Evelyn tells the true story of Desmond Doyle, an unemployed Irish man who lost custody of his children to the government after his wife deserted him. Once his finances improved he wanted his children back. The government tells him to wait until the kids are sixteen. He challenges the law, eventually to the Irish Supreme Court. This is another movie with obvious discussion points: when is it appropriate for the government to intervene in family life? Whose kids? What are parental and paternal rights? Are father’s rights different than mother’s rights? Should they be?
The acting in this film is not top rate, although Sophie Vavasseur plays the role of young Evelyn with perfect pitch. She is not the sacharine cutesy-pie many eight year old girl’s roles become. A few scenes are written, paced and played with excellence. The kindest thing to say about Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice is nothing. Woe! Whoa.
The cinematography is lovely, but hey, it’s Ireland! How could it be other than lovely? The historical aspect of the story kept our attention more than anything else. Language is an issue in this PG movie. One favorite Irish exclamation is “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” often abbreviated. It has more grit than a Hallmark film, but will have you cheering at the end.