The Importance of Stories

There is a question every student asks at some point during their schooling. Why can I remember the lyrics of my favourite song and the plot lines of my favourite sitcom but not the important facts I am trying to memorise for this exam? In the national quest to reignite the ANZACs’ stories of courage and mateship, this perpetual question holds the key.


Every form of entertainment is based on one concept. Stories. And this is what makes entertainment so memorable. Whether it is a song, a television show, a movie or a musical, these pieces of entertainment are so meaningful because the convey stories which we can relate to. And that is what makes these pieces of information much easier to remember than those on any exam. They hold more meaning to us than individual pieces of information.

The story of the ANZACs can be communicated in either of these ways. You can read the facts of battles. Read about the machinery used. The landing dates. The list of men and women who died. The list of men and women who came home. But this is not the most effective way to reignite an interest in these courageous soldiers and nurses. It is the same as trying to memorise sin, cos and tan in maths classes. This information will eventually fade over time.

To commemorate these soldiers and nurses and keep them in the thoughts of the current and future generations, you need to rely on the stories. Stories which are able to form a personal connection with audiences when they find some similarities between themselves and those who served one hundred years ago. And that has truly been achieved for the general public over the last year.

Cinemas have been showing The Water Diviner with Russel Crowe and Ryan Corr. ABC screened ANZAC Girls. Nine Network had the stand-out hit Gallipoli. And Network Ten is showing mini-documentaries voiced by some of Australia’s most celebrated actors and actresses as they read diary entries from original ANZACs.

Some of the shows are based on true stories and some have been inspired by real events. However, they don’t communicate the events in facts and figures. They draw upon meaningful and universal stories which are relatable to the average person. These soldiers and nurses were more than just people on a list, audiences can get an insight into how they felt, how much they were missing their homes and why they sacrificed themselves for their country.

The Spirit of the ANZACs needs to remain in the community for generations to come. The facts are important but what will maintain the relevance and potency of their journeys are their stories. And while the facts may leave you over time, the personal stories will stay with you forever.