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  • reigntall20 February 2020
    Forget everything you know about Ned Kelly. Or don't. It doesn't really matter as this film, is not even attempting to be an accurate historical film. "The True History of the Kelly Gang" by Australian director Jeff Kurzel, is based on the 2000 novel of the same name which gives a fictionalized account of the famed 19th century Australian bandit.

    Many historical films have the tried and true phrase 'based on a true story' and then go on to distort, misrepresent, and fabricate. This film is honest in its dishonesty: the opening text says that nothing you're about to see is true. As the other words fade, the 'true' lingers and becomes part of the title. This itself is a lie, because this this depiction of Ned Kelly is a blend of lie, legend, as well actual true facts about the Kelly gang. There are layers upon layers of subtext and metatext in this film on the topic of posthumous storytelling. Ned Kelly is the perfect subject: he is a man haunted by his past and the lies leveled against him, a man who wrote lengthy letters giving his side of the story, and to this day is still hailed a hero and a villain.

    Another misdirect by the film, is that this is not about the crime-spree of the Australian outlaws but focuses much more heavily on the life of pre-infamy Ned Kelly. Edward "Ned" Kelly is the eldest son of a poor Irish family. His father is sent to prison when Ned is young and a variety of potential father figures - some law enforcement, some criminals - flow quickly in and out of his life. The constant is his mother with whom he has strange, deep yet toxic relationship. Ned is shown to mostly be a good person but has pushed him into a life a crime through unjustified (but also justified) persecution. His decision to become an outlaw seems to be done as an act of protest. It seems everyone in his life is tied into the eternal struggle of authoritarian police and anarchist outlaw, which is extrapolated further to be a conflict between the English and the Irish, centuries old rivals.

    Despite being the focal point of the film, Ned remains an enigmatic figure throughout. He wordlessly stares for an uncomfortable amount of time, the gears turning in his head, before suddenly acting and the reason for his decision is often left for the viewer to decipher. This also gives the sense that some of the plot lines weren't fully developed. Perhaps cutting back on certain scenes to focus more on others could have also helped the uneven pacing. The film is a slow burn that doesn't so much gradually grow into madness, but suddenly lurches headfirst into the depths. George MacKay is captivating as he goes from the wide-eyed nervous staring, to the chaos that is the final act. Kurzel has a great eye and even during the slower segments, there are enough beautiful and intriguing shots to keep viewers engaged; some may find the journey to the brilliant climax to be arduous. And it would be a shame if people gave up before the end. Kurzel's 'Macbeth' is bookmarked by inventive and memorable action scenes and in the same vein, 'The True History of Ned Kelly' culminates with one of the most adrenaline pumping action scenes in film. It is bloody; it is brutal; it is grotesque; and most importantly, it feels real. Many blockbuster action films give a sense of being an observe to highly-choreographed, consequence-free twirling. The combination of visuals and sound design in this film make the viewer feel like they are part of the chaotic firefight.

    Beyond just the sound design, the score deserves great praise as well. The composer Jed Kurzel (director's brother) uses string, percussion, and folk instruments to create a rich sonic atmosphere. There are fun, adventures songs where the bass is cheerfully plucking away, but where Kurzel excels is in the intense. Though this core may not be overall as haunting as his masterful work on 'Macbeth', there are still pieces where low notes pound away like an oppressive heartbeat as the abrasive, off-key high strings become almost overwhelming.

    This movie is not without controversy. Despite telling the audience from the first sentence that this is not a factual depiction, you can find numerous angry user reviews and articles from Australians upset at two aspects of the film: the cross-dressing and homoerotic undertones. The Kelly gang is not trying to be women; they adopt dresses as part of their battle dress (pun intended) in a way that can be interpreted to be an act of protest to masculine ideals. The world of cops and robbers is hyper masculine. Men size each other up, posturing to be the tougher man, sticking guns in each other's faces. The constable's desire to subdue Ned is like a passionate obsession. Robin Hood is oft joked to be gay, living in the woods with his merry men, and Ned Kelly being the Australian Robin Hood... It seems to me as a logical progression, and a delightful deconstruction of the ultra-masculine.

    So, did we learn anything about the Kelly gang at the end of this two-hour journey? With fact so entwined with fiction it's hard to say. So instead, one can mull over the multitude of ideas and themes and meta-commentary that this film provides long after it's over. Not that there are any clear answers there either. Or one can just appreciate the moments of great acting, interesting visuals, top-notch score or memorable finale.
  • The promoters of this film have decided to go with "limited release" due to poor audience reaction. Frankly after seeing this in Turin I have to agree. Of the ten or so film so films based on Ned Kelly this has to be the most ambitious -- and the least well actualized. In the end it is a disjointed jumble, with a couple of well played roles -- but overall, incoherent and pointless. Dressing Ned up as a woman may seem brave, but really it just comes off as a put on. I am not put off by it, but one has to ask: what is the point?
  • Takes a classic bit of Aussie history/fable and writes a new version with some similarities. Entertaining enough and rather poetic. Shot well, but quite up and down in terms of performances, altogether okay. If you're looking for a Hollywood blockbuster version of Ned Kelly's story, this isn't it! Likely to frustrate the hell out of anyone that reveres Ned Kelly and the story as told, which greatly amuses me and adds to this movie's charm. Overall quite good.
  • Entertaining for the first half with some good performances. Then it turns into absolute incoherent drivel, you won't miss anything if you skip the second half of the movie entirely.
  • This really was awfully disappointing. I've read and enjoyed Peter Carey's book of the same name that supposedly the film was based on, but there's a lot in the film I don't recall from that book, nor did some of it align with my general understanding of the saga of Edward Kelly.

    It seemed to have been laid on with a trowel, eschewing subtlety for heavy handed sensationalism. Many of the settings didn't look right for the hills of Beveridge through to the north eastern Victorian high country.. Maybe it's a story that would better suit say 6 x 1 hour episodes rather than trying to jam it into 2½ hours and failing. The young and adult Ned Kelly were not believably the same person.

    I liked Essie Davis as Ellen Kelly, and Josephine Blazier as Kate Kelly was convincing. Thereafter the roles failed to convince, let down by the screenplay, the settings and the lack of alignment with the generally accepted understanding of what happened.
  • I found this movie to be pretty gripping at times and really loved the acting particularly in some of the stronger characters.
  • Surprised by the scathing reviews here. I really enjoyed this film. Great action, great script and dialogue and incredible cinematography... this film felt like a dystopian take on Aussie history turned folklore. This is not a biopic and not traditional in any sense. If you can leave your bias at the door you'll enjoy yourself
  • Not much to recommend it. I gave it 6! Why? Loyalty to an Australian movie? Sadly it is part of what's wrong with Aust movies. Govt supported (federal AND states, which have bureaucratic hide-bound regulations on content). Was this the director's first film? Looked like it. Far too long at 124 mins. I frequently looked at my watch, which is NOT a good thing. Funereal sound track made me want to leave. In fact I almost did half way through because the plot was getting nowhere. The first half with young Ned was to me unnecessary and the all too brief role of 'our Rusty' Crowe the only good part. Ned is known for his bad guy stuff, of which in the second half there is little. The female clothing stuff?! Where did THAT come from? A very seld-indulgent movie. Directors who do that show contempt for their audiences. I will lower my score to 2.
  • So the heterephobic cross dressing losers of the true history Kelly Gang sucked mightily.

    Peter Carey should be advertising recreational pharmaceuticals- it would help with the movie viewing.

    The troopers (cops) were the bright point of this movie. You actually feel sorry for the rich and powerful for the loser scumbags of the Kelly Gang afflicting them.

    Wonder where they got so many dresses and razors to keep so immaculately groomed.

    Grow up Peter Carey. Crap story crap villains in the Kelly Gang. Should have all been executed sooner and shorten this slow motion train wreck of a film.
  • revhead-7339926 January 2020
    I can't believe that Russel Crowe put his name to this completely inaccurate version of Ned Kelly and his gang of outlaws. It's almost the complete opposite of the actual as l story.
  • "Nothing you see in this film is true..." okay! I have a lot more to say about this film than when the above quote meets the viewer's eyes in the opening.

    Let's just get this fact of the matter out of the way that this film is pure and simple 'Fiction', despite the historical setting, context and characters, it by no means represents or even intentionally tries to tell a historically respectable, let alone accurate portrayal of Ned Kelly. That also goes to show I didn't have any expectations whatsoever, but I do like Justin Kurzel as a filmmaker and 'True History' fits alongside the likes of his efforts; 'Snowtown' and 'Macbeth.' Yet, despite my admiration for his film-making, especially for what's on display with this film's Gothic imagery, brooding tone and incredibly sharp gritty attitudes, I cannot and will not admire it for being a piece of historical fiction whose 'real facts' are not only iconic, they're well known by many Australians far and wide as a part of our culture and folk law. Yet what this film does is fictionalize the story and history... severely.

    I understand I'm very split on this film, but let me at least give credit where credit is due. The acting all around is great, the cast is all fine in what they're given, stand outs include; Orlando Schwerdt as Young Ned, Russell Crowe as Harry Power (Ned's Mentor), Essie Davis as Ellen Kelly (Ned's Mother), Thomasin McKenzie as Mary Hearn (Ned's lover) and Nicolas Hoult as Constable Fitzpatrick. I've haven't got many complaints about the other performers, only that they weren't given much for me to be invested in despite the film's insistence I empathize with Ned (George Mackay). I believe anyone of a similar age to when the real Ned Kelly died (25) could play Ned, yet despite the material not being compelling enough to decide if Ned's actions be justified or vilified, it's not going to sway how anyone views the character (or historical figure) be it hero or righteous criminal but intensify it. Mackay is as fine as ever with what he does, yet his lack of a beard that's always characterized Ned Kelly fails me to even buy him as Ned (also due to said material). There was even a nice thoughtful edge given to the depth and dimensions to most characters too, as there were some great scenes where upon engaging with one another, their interests and intentions were just as clear and compelling as Kurzel's 'Snowtown.' However, it's no enough when you've A) seen and know this story before and are questioning it's further liberties, or B) understand that historical facts are what constitutes history and should not be subjected to fiction in such a way as this film does. Let me also add, it's explicit content of being largely violent and overt use of foul language might detract from viewers as never used to such a level I've seen or heard in a film about Ned Kelly. To say it isn't recommended to the 'faint of heart' would be an understatement.

    Sad to say this film doesn't add anything new to what I already don't know about Ned Kelly. I understand the cast and crew's passion for bringing Peter Carey's 'novel of the same name' to the big screen in such a way that'll feel fresh for the public to witness. Yet, that doesn't do enough to constitute the story's historical basis and purely undermines that history in favor of glamorized/fictionalized entertainment. Thus the 'True' in the title implies subjectivity, something for this film's Ned to honestly explain in a way that will polarize anyone reading his story. Ultimately, it's greatest weakness is it's developmental nature for Ned as an outlaw, once Ned is outside the law he adopts an extremist resistance view to the law and state government. Ned wishes he could've lived an honest life for his supposed daughter (who never existed) yet his fall from honest life is fast and doesn't pick up much weight when his 'movement' builds compared to the way the scenes leading up to it do. There's a lot to admire about this film, yet I don't think it'll have a wide appeal, neither does it best represent Ned Kelly. I can see it being praised by some, yet ridiculed by others. I can best describe it as an Insane Historical Fantasy, suspend your disbelief as much as possible when watching this, don't take it as fact, yet try to realize there's more to the myths that're said about Ned and in my adult life I've come to value that a lot more than the fiction.
  • Don't waste your time! This movie is slow and borin
  • I went in with excited expectation, as a fan of this genre and having enjoyed Peter Carey's book despite it's departure into fiction ... wow, disappointed... barely a resemblance to the book and I'm wondering why they bothered using the Kelly names and basic timeline ... would have been better as complete fiction ..
  • doonsa26 January 2020
    Found this tricky to follow at times. And it kept bothering me that Ned was blonde and beardless!
  • How does a film like this get a green light? As a Kelly historian and an appreciator of Carey's novel upon which this film claims to be based, the final outcome of Kurzel's failed attempt does a disservice to both Carey and Australian history. I reckon he'd be lucky to get a job directing Neighbours episodes after this embarrassment.
  • osu-4272726 January 2020
    Worst ned kelly film ever! Wouldn't recommend to anyone
  • Have the makers of this film have any clout? Are their skull cavities being covertly invaded by memory cell-eating worms? We see far too many flaws & fictional boolshyt one after another & so on in this rout. l take it the only thing that make sense of their "true story" is that this flick is obviously about another Kelly gang in another parallel universe, where names & faces do things differently.
  • I enjoyed this NED KELLY parody & any historical inaccuracies did not bother me because the premise is there regardless.GEORGE MacKay plays NED well & cameos for RUSSELL CROW & CHARLIE HUNNAM help give this movie some substance & star quality,the movie can be gruesome at times to the point of nervous laughter were your not sure how to take it as comedy or not but the insane nature of this families existence provides many disturbing scenarios.this film has been ridiculed for not being accurate but to me if I didn't know any different watching it I would not be surprised if it was,I mean who's to say what people will do when they are driven by poverty , lack of social status , oppression & extreme violence,I recommend watching this one regardless of whether you believe it or not it is not a disappointing movie......
  • magoo1049826 January 2020
    The way some scenes were cut made it feel like the story was rushed. I was confused by the abrupt introduction of some characters who then were immediately intertwined and integral to the main characters and story (like is Ned gay? Oh now he he is a step-dad). The varied accents may have been authentic but I seriously needed to watch with subtitles. That said I could only watch about 40 mins of this before turning it off.
  • edward-1733526 January 2020
    This movie has a fantasy feel to it rather then being some sort of doco film sorta like the movie bronson, the cinematography was perfect, actors great, dunno how people are giving this film bad ratings I loved it!
  • HairyMart129 February 2020
    This film had much potential with an outstanding cast, and a great sounding story, which seemed a perfect fit for director - Justin Curzel, who was able to create both haunting imagery with Macbeth and a nerve shredding experience in the true crime drama Snowtown. Here things seem to slipped free from any sense of coherence, in terms of its story and character arcs. So while you do have some really great performances from all, and at times quite striking visuals, the fact that the story never seems to gel, leaves you all a bit disconnected at times from what is happening. The first section with Ned Kelly's childhood, does promise much, but after that it descends into a style that is very reminiscent of Terrence Malick. Whispered voice over of inner thoughts, sweeping visuals, swirling camera shots of characters as they struggle with themeaning in the things happening around them. A bold choice but to pull it off I suspect you need to be Terrance Malik. You never really get the characters or key moments in their story, all just tumbles along in a bit of a mess.
  • Despite the bad reviews for this film. I still preserved since the caliber of Mr Kurzel's past works are way beyond his peers. Sadly I was very wrong. This is camp satirical rubbish 101. But don't take my word for it. Go waste 2hrs of your life you'll regret.
  • amaebell-545881 February 2020
    Great cast and acting, and enjoyed the visuals and storyline greatly. George Mackay and Essie Davis in particular really delivered their roles! Kept me entertained throughout the entire movie. Loved it. A different adaption of a version of the Kelly's from another perspective. Almost fantasy-like in the best way. I don't get the negative reviews, perhaps don't go into it wanting full Docu style accuracy. This was a proper good film to me. Well done!
  • This movie was absolutely Pathetic ! If you haven't seen it don't ! It's not worth your time ! The Script writer , director and producers and the funders of such a pathetic movie need to run out of the film industry ! There's not 1 minute in this movie I regretted watching and I watched it from start to finish ! And the name is highly deceiving but what do you expect from such a poor movie !
  • kaaren-452-53916226 January 2020
    Warning: Spoilers
    Very artsy. Many, many C bombs. Hubby is a true Ned Kelly Fan. He felt it was all a bit far fetched. The dresses & homoerotic stuff didn't bother us, but by attaching a couple of Big Aussie names to it, and launching it Australia Day, I think it's going to ruffle more feathers than expected.
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