Breaker Morant

Synopsis: During the Boer War, three Australian lieutenants are on trial for shooting Boer prisoners. Though they acted under orders, they are being used as scapegoats by the General Staff, who hopes to distance themselves from the irregular practices of the war. The trial does not progress as smoothly as expected by the General Staff, as the defence puts up a strong fight in the courtroom.
Genre: Drama, History, War
Director(s): Bruce Beresford
Production: Live Home Video
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 6 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
107 min


Hurry up, man.

Party, right wheel.

This court of inquiry

has completed its investigation.

Do you wish to make any statement

or give any evidence?

Harry Harbord Morant.

Lieutenant, Bushveldt Carbineers.

I enlisted in South Australia.

I was with the second contingent

for nine months

and was promoted to sergeant in that corps.

I received my commission when l transferred

to the Transvaal Constabulary.

I returned to England on six months' leave

and with the help of my friend,

Captain Hunt,

patched up a quarrel,

an old quarrel with my family.

I had intended to go back to England

to live after the war.

On my return to South Africa,

I fought at Karee Siding

and Kunstadt under Lord Roberts.

I also fought with General French's

cavalry brigade at Diamond Hill.

After that,

there were requests for volunteers

to join the Bushveldt Carbineers

in the Northern Transvaal.

I joined on April 1, 1900.

April Fools' Day.

In the Carbineers, I was responsible for

the capture of Boer commando leader, Kelly.

I was recommended for a DSO.

I take full and entire responsibility

for the events at Fort Edward.

I was, however, acting under orders.

I was also deeply disturbed

by what happened to Captain Hunt.

No sentries.

Either they're asleep or there's no one there.

-No horses either.


Ask him if he's sure

if the information is correct.

They have returned from the Cape Colony.

They are very weak.

Stay here with three men

and this boy.

Keep the horses quiet. Cover us.

Is not good, Captain.

Get back!

Get back over here.

Fall back!

Mount up!

Let's get out of here!

Can't you send them back?

For Captain Hunt.

Watch it, Peter.

-Probably just a stone bruise.

-You think that's all it is?

-Yes. If he limps again, I'll swap it.

-Patrol's back!

Get the Breaker. Get the Breaker!

That's my horse!

What happened?

All right, you men, break.

-They've Captain Hunt.

-They were waiting for us.

There were many men.

Captain Hunt was shot.

There was nothing we could do.

Bullets whizzing by like blowflies.

Lost five men.

George, go set it up.

We're going out on patrol.

There was nothing we could do.

They must have known we were coming.

Known? Of course they bloody knew.

You can't trust these blokes.

How many sides you fighting on, mate?

Just because you sign a bit of paper

don't mean the war's over.

Mr. Taylor, so much for

your damn intelligence report.

Eight Boers, exhausted.

That's what you said.

Horses with fever, you said.

What do you say now?

I say avenge Captain Hunt.

Prisoners and escort!

Quick march!

Come in.

The court of inquiry

has come to a recommendation.

About time.

It has been decided to proceed with

a military court-martial here at Pietersburg.

You will remain under close arrest.

Major Charles Bolton

to see Lord Kitchener and Colonel Hamilton.

This way, sir.

Charles, my dear chap.

Good to see you again, sir.

You come highly recommended, young man.

Thank you, sir.

I have a rather important prosecution

I want you to handle.

Yes, sir.

Charles, you've heard of

the Bushveldt Carbineers?

Yes, a special force raised by Lord

Kitchener to deal with the Boer guerrillas.


Colonials, most of them. Australians.

I understand

they've been quite effective, sir.

Very effective.

We've just arrested three of them

for shooting Boer prisoners

and a German missionary.

I've received, Bolton,

a telegraph message from Whitehall.

The German government has lodged

a serious protest,

-about the missionary in particular.

-Yes, sir.

The Kaiser, as you know,

is our late Queen's grandson.

The fact is that Whitehall feels the Germans

are looking for an excuse to enter the war.

On the Boers' side, of course.

We don't want to give them one.

Needless to say, the Germans

couldn't give a damn about the Boers.

It's the diamonds and gold of South Africa

they're interested in.

They lack our altruism, sir.


Here's the report of the preliminary inquiry.

The evidence against the Australians

is overwhelming.

Who's handling the defense, sir?

We expect no difficulties there.

Selected one of their own chaps

a major from the New South Wales Mounted.

Still can't get used to it.


On the ship coming over here,

the blokes used to joke

about who'd be the first to get a VC.

Scratch yourself from that race, mate.

My father said the war

would make a man of me.

Everybody's father says that, George.

-It's really...



He believes in the British Empire, you know.

We all do in my family.

That's why I volunteered,

to help keep the Empire together.

I volunteered

because there's a depression back there

and I've got a wife and kid.

You believe in the Empire, Harry?

Do I?

Don't reckon he does, mate.

Major J.F. Thomas.

I'm your defending officer.

-George Witton.

-Harry Morant.

New South Wales Mounted.

What sort of a lawyer are you?

They haven't locked me up yet.

What sort of soldier are you?

They're looking after you here?

Looks a bit Spartan.

Well, it's not exactly the Hotel Australia.

More like a coffee palace. No grog.

They gave you the report

on the preliminary inquiry?



-But the trial starts tomorrow.

-We thought you were going to miss it.

You don't know anything about us.

Only what's in the preliminary report.

And that, gentlemen, is not very flattering.

As a matter of interest,

how many courts-martial have you done?



Jesus, they're playing with

a double-headed penny, aren't they?

Would you rather

conduct your own defense?

But you have handled

a lot of court cases back home, sir?

No. I was a country town solicitor.

I handled land conveyancing and wills.

Wills. Might come in handy.

I'm going to need a lot of information.

Do you think they're going to imprison us

or cashier us, sir?

-My father, if he found out...

-Haven't they told you?

There are several murder charges.

The penalty is death.

"Long as the waves shall roll

"Long as fame guards us whole

"And men who heart and soul

thrill to true glory

"Their deeds from age to age

"Shall voice and verse engage

"Swelling the splendid page

of England's story"

It's a matter of discipline and tradition.

Do you think this could've happened with

any contingent besides the Australians?

But Morant's not an Australian.

You're splitting hairs. He's been out there

15 years, learned all their bad habits.

I never thought

you colonials got lost, Major.

I've been at the prison, sir.

Major Thomas, Major Bolton.

Captain Nicholson.

Lieutenants Reed and Baxter.


How do you do?

I understand your Mr. Morant

is something of a poet, Major.

That's right.

He wrote for a paper called The Bulletin

in Sydney.

A Tennyson of the Transvaal.

The Byron of the Bushveldt Carbineers.

Why is it he's referred to as Breaker Morant?

Ladies' man, perhaps? A breaker of hearts.

No, he was a horse breaker.

I understand, the best in Australia.

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Jonathan Hardy

Jonathan Hardy (20 September 1940 – 30 July 2012) was a New Zealand actor, writer and director. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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