Set in 1902 South African during the Boer War, Australian soldier Harry “Breaker” Morant (Edward Woodward) and two of his fellow soldiers are on trial for murder.
Morant and his regiment have been fighting the Boer (South African Dutch speaking farmers) for the British Empire. In the heat of several guerrilla fights, Morant and his men Lt. Peter Handcock (Bryan Brown) and Lt. George Ramsdale Witton (Lewis Fitz-Gerald) take it upon themselves to execute several Boers for killing one of their men.
As the British want to end the war with a peace conference, Lord Kitchner decides to throw the men on trial to show that they want peace so bad they’ll even punish their own men if they break the rules of war. Maj. J.F. Thomas (Jack Thompson) is assigned to defend the men with only one day before the trial.
The men are guilty but they claim they were just following orders. The defense argues that ” Now, I don’t ask for proclamations condoning distasteful methods of war, but I do say that we must take for granted that it does happen. Let’s not give our officers hazy, vague instructions about what they may or may not do. Let’s not reprimand them, on the one hand for hampering the column with prisoners, and at another time, and another place, hold them up as murderers for obeying orders….”
Everyone in the cast is excellent especially Edward Woodward. The film wasn’t a box office hit but it was a critical one and over the years it has gained a large following.