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KOKODA

SYNOPSIS:
A platoon of Australian soldiers from the 39th Battalion is sent as forward patrol outside the village of Isurava on the Kokoda track in New Guinea, during World War II, but sustained Japanese bombardment and initial attacks cut them off from their supply lines and communication. Isolated, they endure without food for three days, carrying their wounded. As they emerge exhausted from the jungle, Isurava is about to fall to the Japanese, and they must gather their last ounce of strength and courage to rejoin the battle.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The fierce, gruelling fighting along the Kokoda track in New Guinea in 1942 have scarred the Australian national psyche - scarred it and strengthened it, for the men who went through the hell of the campaign there had an urgent imperative. They were defending their country from the advancing Japanese. Nothing will forge greater bonds among soldiers, and nothing will generate more respect from the generations that follow.

It is in that spirit that Kokoda was made, but there is a surprising maturity to the film; surprising since the key creative team are all recent (2004) graduates of the famed AFTRS (Australian Film Television and Radio School) in Sydney. The fact that it was put together as a feature project and completed in time for ANZAC Day 2006 also speaks volumes about the script - and the determination of all concerned.

There is only one moment where those understandable emotions impinge on filmmaking decisions, and it is at the very end of the film, by which time we are in a forgiving mood in the face of some outstanding craftsmanship and powerful filmmaking.

The ensemble cast shines through the mud and blood of the track, the action is confidently and economically handled by debuting feature director Alister Grierson and Jules O'Loughlin's cinematography is evocative, dramatic and creative. Likewise John Gray's lush orchestral score, which plays a large part in giving the film a profundity that translates into genuine emotional language.

The film is at times harrowing, but how can it not? Superb production design takes us into this world and battle fatigue is evident as the film comes to its heroic conclusion. But for Australians, it is a stirring and valuable tribute - and a fine piece of cinema.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FEATURE

KOKODA (M)
(Aust, 2006)

CAST: Jack Finsterer, Travis McMahon, Simon Stone, Luke Ford, Steve Le Marquand, Angus Sampson, Christopher Baker, Ewen Leslie, Ben Barrack, Shane Bourne, William McInnes, Tom Budge

PRODUCER: Leesa Kahn, Catriona Hughes

DIRECTOR: Alister Grierson

SCRIPT: Alister Grierson, John Lonie

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jules O'Loughlin

EDITOR: Adrian Rostirolla

MUSIC: John Gray

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nick McCallum

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 20, 2006







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