AN­ZAC EPIC SCREENS

LONG TAN WAS ONE OF OUR TOUGH­EST BAT­TLES – AND FULL OF HEROISM

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | SCREENLIFE - WORDS: SEANNA CRONIN

Stephen Pea­cocke thought he’d missed his chance to be a part of the big-screen telling of the Bat­tle of Long Tan. One of the most sav­age and de­ci­sive An­zac en­gage­ments in mil­i­tary his­tory, Long Tan is a re­mark­able story of how a dis­persed com­pany of 108 young and mostly in­ex­pe­ri­enced Aus­tralian and New Zealand sol­diers fought for their lives, hold­ing off an over­whelm­ing en­emy force of 2500 bat­tle-hard­ened Viet Cong and North Viet­namese sol­diers.

The heroism, mate­ship and sac­ri­fice made by Delta Com­pany comes to life on the sil­ver screen in di­rec­tor Kriv Sten­der’s new war drama Dan­ger Close: The Bat­tle of Long Tan that will have its Aus­tralian pre­miere on the Gold Coast to­mor­row night.

“I read a book about it when I was at univer­sity over a decade ago and I found out at the time some di­rec­tor was at­tached to it. I didn’t even have an agent, so I wrote a let­ter say­ing ‘I’ve been a jacka­roo, I’ve just started act­ing and I’d love to be in this film’. I put my head shot in the en­ve­lope as well, but I never heard any­thing,” he says.

“This time around I thought I’d be too old to be a part of it, but it turned out I was in the per­fect range to play Adrian (Roberts).

It’s a dream come true. As an ac­tor I’ve al­ways wanted to be part of some­thing that moves an au­di­ence and means some­thing in the scheme of things.”

Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Roberts was able to

give the ac­tor, best known for his roles in Home and Away and Her­cules, valu­able in­sights into the bat­tle and his wider ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing the Viet­nam War.

“He’s one of the most im­pres­sive men I’ve ever met,” Pea­cocke says. “I didn’t know what he’d say, but he told me ev­ery­thing I wanted to know. He had all these maps and doc­u­ments. Ob­vi­ously it’s a painful mem­ory but he had noth­ing but re­spect for ev­ery­one – even the en­emy. He just told me about it the way it was. As a sol­dier you dream of be­ing in these big sit­u­a­tions but it was pretty ter­ri­ble. They held to­gether and didn’t leave any­one out there.

“Com­ing from my gen­er­a­tion where ev­ery­thing is so easy and you don’t have to fight for any­thing, you take for granted how self­less and coura­geous that gen­er­a­tion had been. We’ve got it pretty easy.”

Filmed in South­east Queens­land and the South Bur­nett re­gion and cen­tring on the ex­pe­ri­ence of Ma­jor Harry Smith, Dan­ger Close also stars Travis Fim­mel, Luke Bracey, Richard Roxburgh, Daniel Web­ber and Ni­cholas Hamil­ton.

The film has re­ceived rave re­views at early screen­ings in Syd­ney and Can­berra.

“I was lucky enough to see the film in Can­berra with Adrian, which was a real hon­our,” Pea­cocke says. “It was nerve-rack­ing, to be truth­ful, to be next to the bloke you’re play­ing as he’s watch­ing this film about what was a pretty trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one in­volved. I couldn’t get over how well the film came to­gether.”

Roxburgh, who at­tended the Syd­ney Film Fes­ti­val screen­ing, felt a sim­i­lar sense of duty.

“It was a beau­ti­ful, amaz­ing mo­ment and a lot of the vets were there,” he says. “It had quite a spe­cial qual­ity to it. A strong part of the en­gine oil, if you like, that was run­ning that project was the de­ter­mi­na­tion to tell the story for their sake.

“That war was such an un­pop­u­lar war. There were marches on the streets and they were so­cial pari­ahs in a way, which seems so in­cred­i­bly un­fair.

“So many peo­ple died and they were con­scripted to go there by our gov­ern­ment – re­spect should be paid.”

Dan­ger Close opens on Au­gust 8.

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