17 October 2015 | luke-eberhardt
The Defining Portrait of the 'Governor of the Ranges'
What's there to say about Michael Howe? He was a Bushranger, an Outlaw if Colonial Australia, in Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania) actually. Back in the late 1700s and early 1800s it was brutal colony where the most notorious of convicts were sent and served out their time, however the landscape was dominated by vast forests making it almost impossible to navigate easily. Howe was one of the many Bushranges in this region and era who fledged his own civil war against the colonial authorities along with a large gang of Bushrangers or Bolters (escaped convicts). Like many other Bushrangers across Australia, Howe fought for his own right for freedom in a land where every man's opportunity was one he could make and due to his unruly exploits challenged the then unapologetic and unrealized Law of Van Dieman's Land.
This TV-movie directed well known Australian writer/actor and director; Brendan Cowell is beautifully photographed, well acted, visually astonishing and incredibly authentic in it's appearance. While Michael Howe was a big Bushranger name in Tasmania it certainly fills in the gaps to which Bushrangers in Australia's history haven't been brought to film. It's fascinating in it's subject matter, where an isolated colony at the bottom of the world is at war with a man who became clever devious and almost legendary in his exploits against British rule. Settlers are desperate to either catch him themselves or be toppled by this outlaw who the press named the 'Governor of the Ranges'.
What viewers understand about Howe's character is there's a big complexity to why he did what he did. He was at odds with his friends and enemies, including his wife 'Black' Mary an Aboriginal woman who believed in him and who he supposedly had a child with (not too sure if that's historically accurate).
It's certainly one of the best looking, and well performed colonial drama I have seen on the Australian screen in a long time. I can't think of anything else to compare it too, since it's one of the very few films to be made on Michael Howe and a definitive version at that. If you love films or TV shows about Bushranging, this is one of the very best and unique of the genre, and is highly recommended as an essential piece of Colonial Australia as seen on screen.