hundreds of adoring fans, and too many try hard
celebrities, I walked the red carpet at the Regent
Theatre to watch the world premiere of Ned
Kelly. Granted the fans were screaming for
Heath and Orlando and not at an overweight Andre
Agassi look-a-like, but I didn't go
there for the adulation. I went to see the movie
and grab a few free Crown Lagers afterwards. And
no, I didn't get a free ticket thanks to the eight
years of blood, sweat and tears running this website.
I got my bum on a seat because my photographer
Deller (who took all the pictures on
this page) from Pic-This
Photographics was handed
a double pass.
I start this review a word of warning — if
you are going to see Ned
it to be a condensed version of The
Last Outlaw you will be bitterly
disappointed. This movie is an adaptation of
that terrible Robert Drewe book Our
Sunshine (see our Book review).
It includes such gems as Ned killing a horse
so the boys can have a drink (after a couple
of days starving in the bush); and a confusing
scene with a circus lion which gets shot by police.
Apparently, in the original screen play Ned enters
the cage and sits with the lion! Will we see
this on the DVD? The police also shoot the lion’s
mate, a monkey, resulting in the films funniest
line with Joe Byrne saying “The monkey’s
Mick Jaggers’ 1970 Ned Kelly made
more sense — they actually took the time
to film Ned leaving the Glenrowan battle to turn
back his armed sympathisers. This new film leaves
that part out entirely. New improved Ned now
rides with Joe (who dresses as a woman to entice
Sherritt from his hut) to shoot Aaron. He also
dictates the Jerilderie letter, all fifty six
pages of it, inside the Jerilderie hotel helped
along by the hostages. Although new Ned has trouble
reading a newspaper (handed to him by Aaron in
one scene), we see him in Euroa having a read
of the book Lorna Doone. Lucky Ned even
manages to shag some rich bloke’s wife
(a few times). And, of course, he slits the neck
of a horse, kills it and drinks it’s blood
(apparently the boys were really thirsty).
I'm having trouble getting past the Gang drinking
horse blood. It wasn’t needed in the film.
It was based on a scene where Aaron supplied
information as to the Gang’s hideout (after
the police beat him up). The police proceed to
set fire to the surrounding bush then poison
all the water. If you take into account the two
days of travelling the Gang had to endure to
escape the devastation, the cops must have burnt
half of Victoria! And how these police could
have poisoned so many watering holes (many of
them mere puddles) while the fires were raging
all around is mind boggling. Perhaps if they
had spent this time chasing Ned instead of tipping
arsenic into good drinking water, they may have
ended the hunt months earlier!
dear Director why not cut the blood scene altogether,
and put back the one where Peter Phelps’ character,
Constable Lonigan, squeezes Ned’s balls?
At least that scene was based on actual events.
you can ignore the strange accents some of the
actors use (ie. Orlando Bloom as Joe Byrne),
what you will like is Heath Ledger. He plays
a great Ned Kelly. Heath has a commanding presence.
I left the cinema believing he could have been
Ned if the script was right. Unlike so many other
wannabe Ned’s, Heath was the right age,
with a similar physique and statue. It was his
acting and a great final shoot out at Glenrowan
(with no basis in history) which saves the movie
for me. Young
Guns in armour.
for mine the highlight of the night was the after
movie drinks in the Regent Ballroom downstairs.
I took along my own dodgy helmet which allowed
Matt the photographer a prop to take some interesting
photos, including a shot with premier Steve Bracks
(was that lipstick he was wearing?) and two living
legends — Charles “Bud” Tingwell
and Ian Jones.
a piece of history this movie has more holes
in it than swiss cheese. I heard the director
Gregor Jordan saying he hopes schools adopt this
movie as part of their history curriculum. Well,
with no historian consulted on the film, I think
Gregor has spent too much time in the sun. If
you can get past the fact that this isn't a movie
full of facts, you may walk away with having
seen a few hours of good entertainment. The disclaimer
at the end of the credits goes a long way in
explaining the movie:
this picture is based in part upon a true story,
certain characters and names have been changed,
some characters have been composited or invented
and a number of incidents fictionalised. Any
similarity to any name, character or history
of actual persons living or dead other than
those portrayed and depicted herein is entirely
coincidental and unintentional”.
the lights went up and the crowd cheered. However,
as over 90% of the audience was comprised of
B grade celebrities (like Harold from Neighbours)
who would’ve turned up for the opening
of an envelope, they had no idea why they were
clapping. As I looked around the theatre I noticed
the smattering of intellectuals and academics
were doing no such hand movements.
sum up with a few words from the director Gregor
Jordan, taken from the foreword to the book Ned
Kelly The Screenplay, “I sat on the
grass in Hyde Park and read the script and as
I finished I burst into tears”. Yes, Robert
Drewe’s interpretation of Ned Kelly has
made a number of people cry, me included. Maybe
it will make more sense once it comes out on
DVD. Anyone else want to make a Ned Kelly movie?