With Anzac Day approaching, SBS World Movies and SBS On Demand present the Cost Of War collection, featuring a selection of films that explore the tragedy of war and the bravery shown by soldiers and innocent civilians caught in the middle of armed conflicts.
See 10 films from around the world in the Cost of War season on SBS World Movies, screening weeknights at 8.30pm from Monday 18 April, and find other powerful war movies in the Cost of War collection, streaming at SBS On Demand from 21 April.
Here are eight of the outstanding films exploring the Cost of War.
French-Belgian drama Fanny’s Journey is about a group of Jewish children living in occupied France during World War II, who’ve been left in a rural safe house by their parents. However, when they are discovered by the Nazis, their adult carers organise for the children to escape to the safety of neutral Switzerland. When the operation goes pear-shaped, it’s up to strong-willed 13-year-old Fanny (a superb performance from Léonie Souchaud) to lead her two younger sisters and five others through the dangerous countryside, unsure of who to trust along the way. Fanny’s Journey is a French-language film and was inspired by Fanny Ben-Ami’s autobiography.
Fanny’s Journey screened Monday 18 April on SBS World Movies. It will be available at SBS On Demand for 30 days:
Apocalypse Now: Redux
Movie buffs have the opportunity to watch Apocalypse Now: Redux, the controversial 2001 version of the 1979 original, and decide which is better.
Director Francis Ford Coppola took his acclaimed, Oscar-winning classic and re-edited it, adding 49 minutes of extra scenes. Critics were divided by the changes, but the film remains a senses-shattering experience, depicting the futility and insanity of the Vietnam War. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent on a secret mission deep in the Cambodian jungle to find and execute the insane US Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who’s gone rogue with a cult-like army at his disposal. During Willard’s harrowing and increasingly surreal river journey, he gradually comes to realise that there’s more to admire about Kurtz than despise.
Apocalypse Now: Redux premieres at 8.30pm, Friday 22 April on SBS World Movies. It will then be available at SBS On Demand for 30 days.
Beneath Hill 60
Aussie movie Beneath Hill 60 is based on real events about a hidden battle that took place deep below enemy lines in France during World War I, when civilian miners were brought in to dig beneath the German trenches and blow them up. Brendan Cowell stars as Lt Oliver Woodward from the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company, who’s tasked to destroy the German-held Hill 60 in Belgium using 450 tonnes of high explosives. But when the enemy gets wind of Woodward’s plans, it’s a race against time to complete the mission before the Germans can stop him and his men. The English-language 2010 film makes clear not only the horrible nature of trench warfare, but also the claustrophobic terror felt by the diggers, who face death by suffocation, cave-in or being killed by enemy tunnellers.
Beneath Hill 60 premieres at 8.30pm, Monday 25 April on SBS World Movies. It will then be available at SBS On Demand for 30 days.
The Eight Hundred
Epic Chinese movie The Eight Hundred recounts a key moment in the Battle of Shanghai in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War when 452 Chinese soldiers, led by Lieutenant Colonel Xie Jinyuan (Du Chun), are ordered to defend the fortress-like Sihang Warehouse against the much larger Japanese army. Slowly, the defenders’ numbers are whittled down while repelling one enemy attack after another. Meanwhile, the siege is being watched by the initially dispassionate citizens of Shanghai’s opulent International Settlement on the other side of Suzhou Creek. As the Chinese soldiers’ situation becomes more desperate, it awakens a dormant patriotism that inspires the citizens to help them.
Made in 2020 for US$80 million, the Mandarin, Japanese and English-language film was a smash hit, making more than US$480 million at the box office.
The Eight Hundred premieres at 8.30pm on Tuesday 26 April on SBS World Movies. It is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
All Quiet On The Western Front
Richard Thomas serves as both the narrator and lead character Paul Bäumer in the 1979 American version of German war veteran Erich Maria Remarque’s bleak novel All Quiet On The Western Front.
Paul and his idealistic school friends enlist in the army during World War I and, following a brutal training camp, are sent to the front line in France. They’re joined by wily veteran Kat (Ernest Borgnine), who does his best to teach the naïve recruits how to survive. Paul is swiftly disillusioned as the body count grows in his squad and the war starts to go badly for Germany. It is sometimes brutal viewing, but great filmmaking – this unsentimental telemovie later won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Made for Television.
All Quiet On The Western Front premieres at 8.30pm, Wednesday 27 April on SBS World Movies. It is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Outside The Law
After years apart, three Algerian brothers – jaded ex-soldier Messaoud (Roschdy Zem), former political prisoner Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) and gangster Saïd (Jamel Debbouze) – reunite in the mid-1950s in France. Radicalised Abdelkader convinces Messaoud to join the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) and commit acts of terrorism in the fight for Algerian independence from its French colonial masters. Saïd refuses to be a part of their plans, preferring to focus on his nightclub and coaching boxers, which causes friction among the brothers. But as the police close in on Abdelkader and Messaoud, the siblings must join forces to stay alive.
2010’s Outside The Law is a French, Algerian, Tunisian and Belgian co-production featuring French and Arabic dialogue.
Outside The Law is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Rollicking World War II action flick Female Agents begins in May 1944 when French Resistance fighter Louise Desfontaines (Sophie Marceau) is recruited by British spy organisation the Special Operations Executive to put together an all-women squad to parachute into occupied France and rescue an injured British agent in a hospital. Things get messy when the SOE orders the team to next travel to Paris to assassinate high-ranking SS officer Colonel Heindrich (Moritz Bleibtreu), who’s learned too much about the impending D-Day landings at Normandy. The 2008 French film – featuring French, German and English dialogue – is based on the true story of real-life secret agent Lise de Baissac.
Female Agents is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
The Telegram Man
He may resemble Father Christmas but Bill Williams is more like the Angel of Death in 2011’s The Telegram Man. Bill (a masterfully understated performance by Jack Thompson) is a postman in an Australian country town during World War II. He’s become a social pariah as his job entails delivering telegrams to inform families that a loved one has been killed in the war.
“Mr Williams, do you remember when most of our work was weddings and babies?” sobs postmistress Mrs Grady (Karen Garnsey) handing Bill another grim government missive.
This poignant English-language short film – also starring Gary Sweet and Sigrid Thornton – is adapted from Irish writer John Boyne’s short story American Farm ’44.
The Telegram Man is now streaming at SBS On Demand.