Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

The Rats of Tobruk (1944)

play
Email a link to this page
To:
CC:
Subject:
Body:
clip A lash at the enemy

This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

On an armoured patrol into the desert, men of the Australian 9th Division run into an Italian patrol. Peter Linton (Peter Finch) is wounded in the first skirmish. Bluey Donkin (Grant Taylor) and Milo Trent (Chips Rafferty) break off alone into the sand hills, picking off the enemy until both are wounded. As Milo tries to help Bluey, his own head wound makes him unconscious. Bluey tries to keep him awake until their comrades arrive in an armoured vehicle.

Curator’s notes

This is the film’s first real encounter in the desert and Chauvel emphasises the immediacy and very personal nature of the fighting, as well as the comradeship of the Australian soldiers. They are characterised as ferocious and individualistic fighters, able to function on their own, like guerrillas, but devoted to each other’s care once the enemy is defeated.

The style of this sequence is almost like a newsreel. The narration, written by Maxwell Dunn, is redundant in terms of information, but it gives the audience a sense of direct communication, as if being addressed by a friend in a letter from the front. Audiences were used to narration on newsreels; they were the only source of moving images about the war in an age before television news. Chauvel made use of real newsreel footage in the film, but also newsreel techniques. After the war, this kind of simulated naturalism would be given a name and a great deal of recognition in Europe, as neorealism.

Chauvel had spent two years in the earlier part of the war making documentaries for the Department of Information and it is clear that this experience fed into the way he made his movies after 1940 (see While There is Still Time, 1941; Power to Win and Soldiers Without Uniform, both 1942; and A Mountain Goes to Sea, 1943).

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer A lash at the enemy from the feature film The Rats of Tobruk as a high quality video download.

To play the downloadable video, you need QuickTime 7.0, VLC, or similar.

You must read and agree to the following terms and conditions before downloading the clip:

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions. All rights are reserved.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • Where permitted, you may embed materials for your personal or non-commercial educational use only.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

This clip is available in the following configurations:

File nameSizeQualitySuitability
ratstobr1_pr.mp4 Large: 22.3MB High Optimised for full-screen display on a fast computer.
ratstobr1_bb.mp4 Medium: 10.5MB Medium Can be displayed full screen. Also suitable for video iPods.

Right-click on the links above to download video files to your computer.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer this clip in an embeddable format for personal or non-commercial educational use in full form on your own website or your own blog.

You must read and agree to the following terms and conditions before embedding the clip:

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions. All rights are reserved.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • Where permitted, you may embed materials for your personal or non-commercial educational use only.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

Copy and paste the following code into your own web page to embed this clip: