The Lighthorsemen (1987) or One of the Rare Movies on Cavalry Combat

I would say this is one of the lesser known war movies but that says nothing about its quality.

I already mentioned this movie for its portrayal of a soldier who is unable to shoot.

Lighthorsemen is wonderful for many reasons. It tells the true  story of the Australian Cavalry´s participation in WWI in Palestine. British and Australian troops had to confront the German and Turkish forces. The Light Horse had already fought in many battles, among them at Gallipoli. The movie´s realism is convincing. The character portraits are nicely drawn. One soldier is more likable than the other and we slowly get to know each one  in the regiment, and follow them from the early beginning to the battle scenes. This is one of those movies in which you really care about the protagonists. There is even a love story between Dave, the soldier who can´t shoot, and a nurse but it is discreetly kept in the background.

The essential story line of Lighthorsemen follows the 4th Light Horse Brigade in Palestine in 1917 until the battle of  Beersheba where they  achieve what 60000 infantry men could not do. They  break through the entrenched infantry and free the city. This is not an easy endeavor. The heat is scorching, water is scarce and it is a massive strain on the horses.

The battle scenes, especially the final charge,  are really exciting.  We see  the whole regiment  fly along under the line of fire. A fabulous scene.

I am not sure it is a 5 star movie, but it certainly is a solid 4.5.

And, maybe surprising for a war movie involving combat, it has a certain lighthearted quality and cheerfulness stemming from  the fact that those nice lads manage to achieve the impossible.

Was I a bit cryptic? Hope so. Just want to lure you into watching this fine film.

The Soldier Who Couldn´t Kill: Dave in the Lighthorsemen (1987)

Apart from being one of the rare movies about cavalry combat this movie depicts a very interesting problem: The soldier who can´t kill. This is interesting in many ways. Sure it is commonly acknowledged that killing at war and killing in peace time is not the same. While one qualifies as simple killing, the other is said to be murder. You never hear anyone say about a soldier that he “murdered” enemies. He killed them. No judgement here, just a fact. Now what about the soldier himself? Is this really just “killing” for him, a justified way of taking someone else´s life? I don´t think so. Many soldiers suffer from nightmares when back from war and often, one of the elements they dream about, is the enemies they killed coming after them. Undoubtedly they feel guilty. Pacifists all over the planet will agree with them.

Dave in The Lighthorsmen is a good hunter in civil life. He knows how to handle a weapon, he is able to aim and shoot. But he is incapable of killing.

You don´t see that very often in war movies.