The Outlaw Michael Howe
- TV Movie
- 1h 25min
In 1815 a young convict leads a wretched guerrilla army of outlaws, deserters and bushmen in open rebellion against the morally corrupt government on the notorious prison settlement of Van D... Read allIn 1815 a young convict leads a wretched guerrilla army of outlaws, deserters and bushmen in open rebellion against the morally corrupt government on the notorious prison settlement of Van Diemen's Land. As their numbers grow by the day, Michael Howe's gang threaten to overrun th... Read allIn 1815 a young convict leads a wretched guerrilla army of outlaws, deserters and bushmen in open rebellion against the morally corrupt government on the notorious prison settlement of Van Diemen's Land. As their numbers grow by the day, Michael Howe's gang threaten to overrun the colony. An epic story of love and betrayal, The Outlaw Michael Howe will chronicle the a... Read all
Bereft of real narrative the old tactic of huge sweeping panoramas of wilderness have been employed to manipulate the audience in The Outlaw Michael Howe. Conversely, the film Jindabyne used landscape to great effect and for my sensibilities raised difficult questions around contemporary morality and managed to be entertaining; proving landscapes and good story need not be mutually exclusive.
The title is a play on the Clint Eastwood Western, The Outlaw Josey Wales which is a story that does explore characters, however unapologetic titles playing on well made previously successful 40+ year old films had better deliver. This film isn't one of those (as if you can't tell from the title).
The hatred of authority by the protagonist is one dimensional. The rag tag gang members seem boring, but unlike the aforementioned Western, are just actors looking like a gang. Apparently the community liked Michael Howe but you get no sense of it until you see them cheering, patting him on the back and a few obligatory kids in awe of him. Until that point I thought the community loathed him.
The man was an animal, treated badly by animals and was a product of his time. There is so much material here especially for the amateur psychologist but this was mostly explored in graphic violence and a few tokenistic gestures about falling in love with "The Place." This is supposed to elude to his humanity (oh the humanity!) and human complexity. The film Jindabyne is a film with a potentially less interesting story than Michael Howe, but that film leaves you with a sense of uneasiness because of the well told thought provoking and complex storyline which studies the characters and values of modern times. That's how you tell a story.
I have little doubt that Michael Howe is an interesting character in early Australian history, however gratuitous violence of the time can be conveyed through other means than the way in which it was dealt. A few years ago a one or two part film was made for TV on William Buckley, who was a contemporary of Michael Howe. Buckley was an 1803 convict escapee not too far from Howe as it turns out. That film/docudrama was interesting and entertaining; struggles in Buckley's life revolved around food, shelter, water, aborigines, snakes, the climate, language, two conflicting cultures, women and of course inevitable power struggles. You don't get much depth in the Outlaw Michael Howe.
Some may like the film; I might as well just have read a Wikipedia entry on Michael Howe.
A visually interesting film but ultimately B grade. There are some good parts to the film, but mostly it is not in the area of character development.
One good thing is, it is fairly short.
- Jan 24, 2016