Beneath Hill 60 - Preview
Preview by Jack Foley
THE extraordinary true journey through hell of World War I’s unsung heroes – the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company – comes to life for the first time on screen in the outstanding war epic Beneath Hill 60, released on DVD on October 11, 2010 by Momentum Pictures.
Directed by renowned actor/director Jeremy Sims and written by screenwriter David Roach, Beneath Hill 60 is the astonishing, never before told story based on the diaries of Captain Oliver Woodward.
An action packed story of Australia’s cat-and-mouse underground mine warfare and one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented, and mystifying conflicts of WWI.
In 1916, mining engineer Oliver Woodward (Brendan Cowell) is made an officer commanding a secret Australian Tunnelling Company. Ordinary miners from all over the country are amazingly given just two weeks military training before being sent to the Western Front.
The tunnellers’ task is to defend a labyrinthine and leaking tunnel system that snakes beneath enemy lines at The Messines Ridge with its notorious Hill 60 rumoured to be the bloodiest part of the Western Front.
The tunnels hide a deadly secret. Directly beneath strategic sections of the German lines, the allies have crammed the largest amount of explosives ever collected (53,500lbs) in one place.
Woodward’s company, just a part of some 4.500 miners on the project, must protect the tunnel system until he receives the order to blow the mines. But no one knows when the order will be given.
With constant inundation of mud and water and the endless vibrations from heavy artillery, the tunnels are in imminent danger of collapse.
Disaster looms as the Germans discover the Australian’s underground activity and begin sinking a shaft towards the Hill 60 mine. The whole allied strategy is now in jeopardy.
While the bloody battle rages in the muddy fields of Flanders, a deadly cat-and-mouse game is played out thirty metres below between the German and Australian tunnellers.
Woodward learns that being a leader in this dreadful war is not just about commanding and protecting his men, it’s also about being prepared to sacrifice them. And as zero hour approaches, he must make a terrible decision…
Magnificently shot and grippingly atmospheric, the tension builds with each scene conveying the claustrophobic conditions of the tunnels, deftly depicted by an all Australian cast.
The DVD special features include an insightful commentary with writer David Roach and director Jeremy Sims and the featurette Beneath Hill 60: A Producer’s Journey.
Beneath Hill 60 is released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 11 from Momentum Pictures.
The book, Beneath Hill 60, by Will Davies, best-selling editor of Somme Mud, is available now in paperback. Based on exhaustive research and the diaries of survivors, and featuring original and personal photographs.
Running time: 117mins
UK DVD Release: October 11, 2010