Umbrella is really very chuffed to have just released two famous expertly restored Australian films from The Chauvel Collection. Forty Thousand Horsemen and The Rats of Tobruk directed by the film pioneer Charles Chauvel. Before delving into what Forty Thousand Horsemen and The Rats of Tobruk are about it is important to understand the vital role of Charles Chauvel. Charles Chauvel was a producer, director, writer and actor and was one of the most popular Australian filmmakers during the first half of this century. Extremely passionate about his work and possessing a strong desire to tell the stories of the average Australian his career spanned almost forty years. Chauvel along with his wife Elsa began in the silent era, quickly adapting to sound on film, color film and then the television age. He made nine feature films, five wartime shorts, a documentary television series and published four books. Chauvel’s films which are being released by Umbrella over the coming year and a half are fully restored and have all new transfers include: Forty Thousand Horsemen, The Rats of Tobruk, Sons of Matthew, Uncivilised, In the Wake of the Bounty, Heritage and Jedda. Chauvel’s films reflect a strong desire to share the uniqueness of Australia and its people with the rest of the world. Now that Chauvel’s crucial role in Australian cinema has been broadly outlined let’s take a specific look at Forty Thousand Horsemen and The Rats of Tobruk.
Stirring, sweeping and spectacular and described as a “magnificent tribute to the Australian soldier” (Film Weekly), Forty Thousand Horsemen dramatizes the exploits of the Australian Light Horse in Palestine during World War I. Following the adventures of Australian soldiers Red Gallagher (Grant Taylor On the Beach), Jim (Chips Rafferty The Overlanders) and Larry (Pat Twohill The Avenger) the film culminates at the Battle of Beersheba a great cavalry charge led in real life by Charles Chauvel’s uncle, General Sir Harry Chauvel. Chauvel again explores the theme of war in The Rats of Tobruk a powerful story of three soldiers brought together by the fortunes of war. Set against the backdrop of the legendary defense of the North African city of Tobruk by Australian Infantry Forces during World War II. Produced to lift the morale of a war weary nation, as the tide of victory was turning, the film is a heartfelt tribute to the Australian fighting spirit. Starring Chips Rafferty (The Overlanders), Peter Finch (Network), Grant Taylor (On the Beach), George Wallace (Gone to the Dogs) and Joe Valli (The Flying Doctor). Both titles feature never seen before special features including: • The brand new Big Picture-Featurette on Charles Chauvel, his wife Elsa, the films and their importance in Australian film history • Trailer • Stills Gallery
*Both titles are available on the Umbrella Entertainment website now