Beneath Hill 60 is an Australian war film from 2010 based on a true story about miners who dug tunnels under enemy lines in order to plant explosives.

The story cuts between the situation in the trenches and the principle character’s love interest. I’d suspect the latter is to make the film more palatable to female audiences, and it is well done, but to be honest I’d have thought the friendships between the guys in the trenches would have humanised a war film sufficiently for it to appeal to women. Maybe I’m mistaken – do tell me what you think please!

The film flows well, though it can be nail-biting at points – the story and characters are sufficiently well developed (with the knowledge that it’s true) that you really care for what’s happening. The balance between what is predictable, and some of the big uncertainties about how it will work out, is excellent.

I wasn’t sure about watching it (I’d got it on recommendation), as it is rated 15, but the rating comes from the subject matter addressed. I was glad for no gratuitous glorifying of sin or bad language. It felt pretty real.

Moving and thought provoking. Some of the decisions the characters have to make aren’t easy, and some of what they have to go through is harrowing – imagining ourselves in their place means we have to ask some hard questions.

The historical note at the end tells us the explosion (somewhere in Belgium) was felt in London and Paris. At that point it was the biggest man-made explosion the world had ever known. A momentous event in world history, albeit a costly one in sad circumstances.

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