“Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan” (MA) ****
AFTER brushing up by reading the well-attested “Wikipedia” account of how it was in a Vietnamese rubber plantation 53 years and 11 days before director Kriv Stenders’s film opened on public release, I can tell you that the characters are real and the film’s depiction of their parts in the battle is by and large accurate.
It may be presumptuous of me, who has never heard a shot fired in anger, to tell you that the screenplay about one of the high points of Australian military history by Stuart Beatty and James Nicholas and three others comes achingly, admirably, close to how it was.
Running for almost two hours, the film merits four stars not merely for its depictions of young men, many of them conscripts, facing a more numerous battle-hardened enemy. It also shows command and communications structures making decisions about events that they could see only from maps of the area. Free of the emotional passages that infest so many Hollywood battle movies, it pulls no punches against credibility.
Years ago, neighbours who had graduated in the RMC class of 1955 invited me to join their “Escape Committee” (from household chores) to have coffee one morning every week. They’ve all gone now and all I have is distant recollections of their reminiscences of Long Tan and other battles. Writing this review, I miss what they could have contributed to the film’s verity. But even without their help, I know that “Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan” delivers a powerful and credible account.
At all cinemas