There will be issues for those who might interpret the final battle strategy as fact-rather-than-fiction, but I can understand WHY Williamson and Weir used poetic license. Despite the fact that FAR more Brits (and French, and of course Turks) died on the Gallipoli peninsula than Aussies - the film is as much about Australia developing its own identity by distinguishing itself from Mother England (in 1915 AND 1981) as it was about the battle itself. But the film didn't need to set up the clueless, snobby poms as the bad guys in that final act to have an impact. The pointlessness of the war, the tragic stupidity of the whole thing is apparent just from the visuals of the older teenagers and young men getting mowed down like cannon fodder.
As is apparent from the LONG lead up to the third act/war scenes, this film, while it might be seen through the prism of war, is really about the Australian identity as defined through mateship. The naive idealism of Archie balanced by the cocky pragmatism of Frank. But also the larrikin nature of Frank's three mates. Sensational perfs across the board, but with Gibson leaking charisma over the rest of them. The tale spans the globe, and feels epic, in a way. It is stunningly lensed, with verisimilitude dripping from every shot. I never felt once that I wasn't alongside these boys in the Australian desert, on in those Cairo fleapits, or those trenches in Turkey. Some staggering shots, and some intimate ones too. It feels epic, but it's not, not really. It basically boils down to a friendship between two very young men. And their journey to, and within, a very tragic, very sad war.
Janet Maslin, New York Times