A new movie coming to cinemas depicts one of the most notorious battles fought by Australian forces during the Vietnam War, Long Tan.
Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan is a major motion picture shot entirely in Queensland that tells the amazing story of the exploits of soldiers of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment stationed in South Vietnam in 1966.
The Battle of Long Tan has come to be known as a David and Goliath like struggle, as just 108 soldiers held back 2500 battle hardened North Vietnamese soldiers in an abandoned rubber plantation.
Outnumbered and outgunned, the Australians fought in a way that characterises the ‘Australian spirit’, yet the Vietnam War was one of the most criticised and vilified conflicts in which Australian forces have ever been involved.
After the ceasefire, soldiers returned to a hailstorm of public resentment, blaming them for their part in the atrocities of war. Even though most were conscripted into the Australian Army to fight in this unpopular war, large sections of the Australian public were unable to reconcile this compulsory military service with the dreadful experiences of a controversial war.
Consequently, many soldiers kept quiet about serving in the Vietnam War, choosing to keep secret about the war, burdened and alone.
Despite the military victory of Long Tan, it continued to be a political embarrassment. This is exactly why this film needed to be made, says director Kriv Standers.
“The soldiers that went to Vietnam were never really understood, they were spat on, they were called mercenaries. They weren’t even allowed in RSL clubs.”
Sanders impresses upon viewers that this movie is about those men, and valuing what happened to them throughout the war.
“Enough time has passed for us to realise that the Battle of Long Tan that was fought for just four hours on that afternoon in August 1966 has haunted these men for over 50 years, and has left many scars.”
The film carries some big names in Australian cinema, including Travis Fimmel of Vikings fame and stage and screen veteran Richard Roxborough. A movie of this scale is huge for Queensland, as the story of the 6th Battalion will screen internationally, showcasing important Australian talent and recounting history not often seen on the world stage.
Standers hopes that the film will impress upon viewers the horror of the Vietnam War, and Long Tan in particular, but also the exceptional bravery displayed in those hours as soldiers put everything on the line for their mates and their country.
“Celebrating these guys who didn’t choose to be there but stood their ground and did everything and more than was asked of them, is the kind of thing that Australia needs right now. They are not superheroes, they are heroes.”
While the jury is still out on how the film will portray the North Vietnamese soldiers whose country and people were also badly damaged, it will hopefully go a way to understanding the trauma of those soldiers who returned home to a hostile welcome.
To enter, visit our competition page HERE and don’t forget the codeword: LONG TAN. Entries close July 29th. Prize winners must be available to collect their tickets from our office in Ipswich CBD – U 4/13 Bell Street within a week of being chosen. Only one entry per household accepted.