By JACKSON MILLER
August 18, 1966
“Remember who you are. You’re Delta Company. Stay strong. Protect your mates. Make every shot count.”
Those are the words spoken by Major Harry Smith to the men of D Company 6RAR, as they stand in rubber plantation Long Tan waiting for an onslaught of North Vietnamese soldiers.
Smith, portrayed brilliantly by Travis Fimmel, and his men are sure they will not survive. But they stand strong, determined to hold back the enemy for as long as they can.
Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan is a story of overwhelming bravery in the face of insurmountable odds.
Long Tan is where 108 Australian and New Zealand conscripts, all of them barely into their 20s, battled more than 2000 Vietnamese soldiers.
It has gone down in history as the bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War.
Eighteen members of D Company and at least 245 Vietnamese soldiers lost their lives, and the soldiers’ bravery was not acknowledged by the Australian government for more than 45 years.
Director Kriv Stenders paid tribute to those lost in the battle by combining exceptional camera work and first-class acting. His impeccable choice of music – with pounding drums and powerful guitar riffs during fight scenes, or stirring piano as the names of those who passed away are called – also transport you to that August day.
The writers, including Stuart Beattie, James Nicholas and Karel Segers, went to great lengths to accurately portray the time. All aspects, down to the props used in the film, were as accurate as possible.
The RAAF UH-18 Huey helicopter featured in the film was the one actually used to transport pop singers Col Joy and Little Pattie to entertain the men at Nui Dat base on the day of the battle.
You feel the excitement of these ANZACs as they await the arrival of the entertainment, and their disappointment as they hear the music through the trees, knowing they’ll miss it.
The tension is thick as D Company replace B Company and make their way into Long Tan.
You wait with bated breath before the first attack on 11 Platoon.
The fear of the men as they are overwhelmed by the Viet Cong and PAVN seeps through the cinema screen.
Aside from Fimmel’s performance as Smith (pictured above), the film’s standout performance is undoubtedly Daniel Webber as Private Paul Large.
It's a powerfully moving moment when Paul is fatally wounded, and even more affecting when he's placed into the helicopter to be taken home.
Webber’s moving portrayal of a young conscript wanting to get home to his fiance while struggling to keep himself and his mates alive is phenomenal.
Most of the extras in this film are veterans themselves. The company that made this possible, Extra Specialists, deserves a special mention.
It’s impossible to hold back tears as the names of those who gave their lives at the Battle of Long Tan roll up the screen at the end of the film, with the anti-war song I Was Only 19 playing in the background.
Whatever your opinion on Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, these men gave their lives, and that should berespected.
This film has done the men of D Company 6RAR a great justice. It is a masterpiece and a credit to Australian cinema.