Brian Cleaver, a National Serviceman conscript whose number came out of the lottery barrel was sent to Vietnam to serve his country. His experiences there would change the course of his entire life. Through the vehicle of Brian’s continuing quest to lay the ghosts of his past – and atone for some of the horrors of combat THE CRATER is a remarkable portrait of war and its long term consequences.
Brian was so traumatized by his exposure to the Battles of Coral and Balmoral that he has been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress for the past forty-six years. As he acknowledges himself, part of his way of dealing with the nightmares of those two battles he experienced firsthand is his search for the missing 42 bodies of enemy soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army who threw themselves at the Australian lines during the battles.
Those 42 were bulldozed into a mass grave in a large bomb crater in front of the Australian diggers position. This film tells the story of the battles that changed Brian’s life, and sees him return to Vietnam – to meet old enemies and dig for the bodies of the men he saw killed.
A very personal story of one man’s tour of duty in Vietnam and his obsessive search to locate 42 former enemy soldiers he saw Killed in Action so that their bodies can be returned to their families and their spirits put to rest.
Brian Cleaver was conscripted to fight in Vietnam “for his country”. He lived through the biggest battle the Australians fought in Vietnam which left him numb and shell shocked for the next 46 years. His way of seeking atonement was to make ten trips to Vietnam, obsessively searching for the unmarked mass grave – a giant B52 bomb crater – that held the unknown soldiers of that battle.
Directed by veteran filmmaker David Bradbury (Oscar nominated for his film about legendary Vietnam war cameraman Neil Davis), THE CRATER includes in-depth interviews with those men who were prepared to put their heads above ground and engage with the huge number of advancing communist soldiers who were hell bent on wiping out the Australians. Bradbury has also captured interviews with North Vietnamese veterans who fought in the battle and the families of the martyrs whose souls are still wandering.
THE CRATER is a deeply emotional story about the long term consequences of war. It includes powerful re-enactments of the 1968 Battles of Coral and Balmoral