This Australian film tells the previously untold true tale of Aussie tunnel experts, led by Capt Oliver Woodward (Brendan Cowell), chosen to create and detonate bombs under no man’s land to German positions in order to advance the Allied cause. Their ultimate target, Hill 60 in Belgium, a German stronghold, is the scourge of advancing troops. When and how to detonate is the key to maximise the damage but against them are atrocious conditions and the Germans’ own attempt at closing the mine down (if they can find it.)

Directed by Jeremy Sims and written by David Roach, this is a gripping drama superbly scripted and acted. The claustrophobia of not only the tunnels but also the trenches themselves, the ever present danger and constant pounding on both the land and the minds of the soldiers and the importance of silence underground amongst all the mayhem are all brilliantly executed. The staples of WWI Australian dramas are all there, ordinary men from all over brought together, young and old fighting side by side, idiot generals and basic heroics are as well dealt with here as in Peter Weir’s Gallipoli.

Depicting action below the ground was a new twist and the closing church scene was as chilling and moving a representation of the lingering horrors of war as any.

We can sit through things like Pacific to see us represented as likeable yokels in US stories or we can watch our own productions – about us, for us. Like the aforementioned Gallipoli and following on from the recent and excellent Kokoda, Beneath Hill 60 is a valuable Australian film that deserves recognition in the Australian consciousness long beyond its running season.

Kryztoff Rating:  5K

See more of Kryztoff‘s film reviews here.