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David Williamson's Gallipoli

Video clip synopsis – David Williamson wrote the film Gallipoli in collaboration with director Peter Weir. It has greatly influenced modern Australians’ view of this iconic event from Australia's past.
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 0min 52sec
Tags - ANZAC, Australian History, change and continuity, commemoration, Gallipoli, representations of war, war, war memorials, World War 1, see all tags


David Williamson's Gallipoli

For copyright reasons this clip is not available as a download.

About the Video Clip


David Williamson is an excerpt from the program David Williamson (26 mins), an episode of Australian Biography Series 11 (7×26 mins), produced in 2007.

Australian Biography Series 11
The Australian Biography series profiles some of the most extraordinary Australians of our time. Many have had a major impact on the nation’s cultural, political and social life. All are remarkable and inspiring people who have reached a stage in their lives where they can look back and reflect. Through revealing in-depth interviews, they share their stories – of beginnings and challenges, landmarks and turning points. In so doing, they provide us with an invaluable archival record and a unique perspective on the roads we, as a country, have travelled.

A Screen Australia National Interest Program.

Curriculum Focus


Student outcomes

  • identify, comprehend and evaluate historical sources
  • use sources appropriately in an historical inquiry
  • explain different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past

Inquiry Questions

  • What were the experiences of Australians in the Gallipoli campaign?
  • How and why was the Anzac legend created?

Students learn about:

  • The creation of the Anzac Legend.
  • Australia’s commemoration of World War 1.

Background Information


In this program David Williamson describes his evolution from engineer to playwright, his obsession with writing, the themes and ideas which fascinate him and the way in which he draws on his own experiences of life for his stories and characters. His work usually explored themes from politics and family in contemporary urban Australia.

Williamson’s work however also includes film and TV scripts that are not derived from stage drama. One of these scripts, for the film Gallipoli, written in collaboration with director Peter Weir, is derived from the history of World War 1 and has been very influential in modern Australians’ view of this iconic event from Australia’s past.

In this clip Williamson explains his motivation for, and intention in, writing about Australia’s involvement at Gallipoli.

Classroom Activities

  1. View Peter Weir’s 1981 film Gallipoli. As you watch, make notes under the following headings.
    1. the reasons Australia invaded Turkey.
    2. the reasons young men volunteered for service in 1914/15.
    3. the conditions at Gallipoli.
    4. the attacks at Lone Pine and the Nek.
    5. the relationship between soldiers and officers.
    6. the qualities displayed by the ANZACS at Gallipoli.
  2. Group work -form groups of 3–5:
    1. compare and share your notes with others in the group.
    2. use a dictionary definition of ‘legend’ and your notes to identify qualities or events from the campaign at Gallipoli which fit the definition.
    3. Each group should report their conclusions to the class as a whole
    4. Using a concept map, formulate a class definition/description of the ANZAC ‘Legend’.
  3. For research: individual, group or teacher directed.
    1. When was ANZAC Day first commemorated?
    2. How has the commemoration of World War 1 changed over time?
    3. What is commemorated on ANZAC Day in the 21st century?

Further Resources

  1. View Tolga Ornek’s 2005 film Gallipoli. How is it different from the 1981 version? For what reasons? Some students may be interested in this brief article by Prof. Roger Hillman, Representing Gallipoli on film – from national to transnational myth?
  2. Find a copy of Alan Seymour’s play One Day of the Year. When was it set? What was the attitude to ANZAC Day and Gallipoli?
    The One Day Of The Year, STC, Stephen Dunne, 4 April 2003
  3. Visit the Australian War Memorial website