The “Driving Miss Daisy” director doing Australian war film
Internationally acclaimed Australian director Bruce Beresford (“The Man from Snowy River”, “Double Jeopardy”) has come on board to help Sydney producer Martin Walsh bring the upcoming Long Tan feature film to the big screen.
The feature film will re-tell one of the most heroic episodes in Australian military history, the Battle of Long Tan (18 August 1966) fought during the Vietnam War. It will be made on a budget of between $32-42 million – depending on cast, final script and locations. This an unparalleled figure for an Australian feature film of this nature.
Sydney-based Red Dune Films holds the rights to the authoritative book on the battle as well as the stories of the seven commanders involved in the bloody conflict. These rights paved the way for the critically acclaimed FOXTEL Battle of Long Tan documentary which had its world premiere on The History Channel on 16th August.
“All of the ingredients are there – a gripping true story, young and diverse characters filled with hope and resolve in the face of overwhelming odds, stunning visual opportunities, epic action sequences, and the opportunity to showcase a high profile ensemble cast,” said Bruce Beresford.
“There’s this incredible mix of drama, tragedy and heroism tempered with laconic Australian humour in the heat of battle.”
Martin Walsh, Executive Producer of Red Dune Films, said: “This is a film that is long overdue, and will see us put one of Australia’s most heroic battles on the world stage for the first time. We are thrilled and honoured that Bruce has accepted our invitation to take this story to a global audience. Bruce was our first and obvious choice. Bruce brings to the project his critically acclaimed talent as demonstrated through classic movies such as Puberty Blues, Breaker Morant, Driving Miss Daisy and Double Jeopardy. This, coupled with his Australian heritage and international experience will create a truly authentic Australasian but universally appealing perspective.
“It has been decades since Australia made a feature film remotely like this. Action films are rare largely due to their cost – and the majority of our film export product falls into either the drama or comedy category.”
Walsh said the response from the Australian public to the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, and the Battle of Long Tan documentary on The History Channel has been overwhelming.
“We have had the movie project in incubation for two years – and we’ve witnessed an enormous interest in this story from Australians and others around the world with the recent milestone of the 40th Anniversary events. The will, courage and mateship demonstrated by the young officers commanding the battle along with a group of young Australian conscripts and New Zealand soldiers highlights another important chapter in the history of the fighting Anzac spirit. It’s a story Australians and New Zealanders can feel proud to share with movie goers worldwide.
“The appointment of an Australian director for the project reflects the spirit of the film which the Long Tan commanders and other veterans have long maintained must be told from a uniquely Australian-New Zealand perspective,” he added.
Lt. Col Harry Smith, officer commanding D Company, 6RAR, at Long Tan, said: “We are very happy that Bruce Beresford has decided to help bring our story and the story of the Battle of Long Tan to the silver screen. Bruce has demonstrated through films such as Breaker Morant, his ability to tell a story and capture the drama and essence of great characters.
The commanders have entrusted an important legacy to Martin Walsh and Bruce Beresford but we are confident the story of Long Tan will be told in the most accurate but ultimately in the most widely appealing way.”
Detailed planning has already begun on the project and it is hoped that it will be filmed entirely in Australia. Bruce Beresford has already begun researching and writing the script.
18 Australians – including 11 national servicemen – were killed and 21 wounded in the Battle of Long, which took place over three hours in driving monsoonal rains in a rubber plantation, 5km from the Australian Vietnam War base of Nui Dat.
108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers took on and ultimately defeated more than 2,500 seasoned and heavily armed North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops.
The soldiers received a US Presidential Citation and a South Vietnamese Government Citation for their gallantry.
The Battle resulted in wholesale changes to the military handbook of the Australian Army.