Updated May 2, 2003

Ned Kelly has been the subject of films since the turn of last century. Nearly all have not let truth get in the way of a good story. We have been keeping track of progress on the latest. Please have your say.

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'Ned Kelly' the movie

'Ned Kelly' the movie - fact or fiction?
We all know the movie is based on a novel, but which parts in particular are fact, and which are fiction? To find out - click HERE.
For a review of the screenplay - click HERE

Official Movie site www.nedkellythemovie.com/
Check out the latest interview with Orland Bloom actor who plays Joe Byrne. Except: "I was immediately drawn to Joe," he says. "He was Ned's right hand man, he'd live and die for the loyalty of his friends and particularly for Ned. He'd follow him to hell and back and I just felt that was something that I could work with, embellish, and make a strong character."

Press Articles (latest update 15/04/03)

Ned Kelly The Movie
Premier 22nd March 2003, Released 27th March
and Movie News links

(Based on the book 'Our Sunshine' by Robert Drewe)

Movie poster and Still
(Source www.full-


For an updated* cast list or
latest news see below...



Movie Press Release 29/04/02


Australian actress Naomi Watts has been cast in the feature film NED KELLY, directed by Gregor Jordan and starring Heath Ledger ("A Knight's Tale", "Four Feathers") as NED. The announcement coincides with the first day of filming in rural Victoria.
Watts made her mark on Hollywood in David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" and is currently filming "Le Divorce" with director James Ivory. Scheduled to arrive for filming in June, Watts will join an already strong cast headed by Ledger who starred in Jordan's first feature "Two Hands". Jordan's second feature "Buffalo Soldiers" was highly acclaimed at last year's Toronto Film Festival.

Orlando Bloom, whose film credits include "Lord of The Rings" and "Black Hawk Down" co-stars as gang member JOE BYRNE. Also co-starring is Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush ("Shine", "Elizabeth", "Quills" and "Shakespeare in Love"), in the role of SUPERINTENDENT HARE. Earlier this year Rush completed filming on "Frida" and "Swimming Upstream".
Newcomers Laurence Kinlan, (19 yrs), from Dublin and Philip Barantini, (21 yrs) from Liverpool (UK), make up the Kelly Gang, in the roles of DAN KELLY and STEVE HART.

Joel Edgerton, known for his stand-out role in the television series "The Secret Life Of Us", will play gang member AARON SHERRITT. Oscar nominee Rachel Griffiths, whose film credits include "Hilary and Jackie" and "Blow" has been cast as MRS SCOTT. Fellow Australians Peter Phelps, Russell Dykstra, Saskia Burmeister, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, Geoff Morrell and Kris McQuade have also been cast.

Jordan comments, "I'm lucky to have got together such a great group of Australian actors to tell this story. Geoffrey, Naomi and Rachel are all in demand both here and internationally and Heath gave up some big roles so he could play Ned".

NED KELLY is being executive produced by Working Title Films in the UK and marks the first feature film to be made through the company's Australian subsidiary WTA, headed by Tim White.
An Endymion Films production in association with WTA, NED KELLY is being produced by Nelson Woss and Lynda House. The executive producers are Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Tim White. Based on the book "Our Sunshine" by Robert Drewe, the screenplay is adapted by John Michael McDonagh. Oliver Stapleton (B.S.C), whose cinematography credits include "Cider House Rules", "Birthday Girl" and "Shipping News", shot "Buffalo Soldiers" for Jordan and will team up with him again on NED KELLY. The film will be distributed worldwide by Universal Pictures.

Cast List (*Thanks to Kristy Robinson for the updated cast list)

YOUNG NED (10 yrs) - CODY O'PREY *

Movie News links

Ned Kelly www.nedkellythemovie.com/

Boxoffice Online 'Outback Outlaw' www.boxoffice.com/scripts/content.asp?terms=2032

Movies.com Movie details (and gossip) movies.go.com/movies/N/nedkelly_2003/

Counting down.com www.countingdown.com/movies/nedkelly

Related Press Articles

Review: 'Full Metal Myth' Alex McDermott from Eureka Street
Source: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/articles/0304flash.html

Ned Kelly, dir. Gregor Jordan. If Ned Kelly hadn’t lived it would have been necessary to invent him. He is the outlaw legend par excellence, our culture’s pre-eminent survival myth, built on distortions, half-truths and widely agreed misperceptions—a tapestry of lies that spells truth. And now the myth has arrived at a multiplex cinema near you. The Kelly phenomenon continues its rise, absorbing all critiques, critics and admirers in iron-clad embrace, an industry in itself.
In this manifestation the myth starts with Ned (Heath Ledger) kissing a horse on its nose. Then he rides the horse through town with a pretty girl (Naomi Watts) at his back, gets shot at and pistol-whipped by the first of many evil-hearted policemen and we’re away (with an underlying sense of trepidation that it’s going to be all downhill from here). Myth-making being myth-making, there is always going to be time for Ned to undress Julia, dance a jolly Irish jig in a bush pub, declare ‘The land belongs to us’ to rousing cheers from a town whose bank has just been robbed. But the tone has been unequivocally set: innocent boy with Irish brogue is harassed by evil men in uniform, eventually takes up arms to avenge his mother’s unjust imprisonment and seek justice for all who suffer under a tyrant’s yoke.
There’s a breathtaking ruthlessness to the narrative, and in a way, that works. Nothing to complicate the moral clarity of Ned’s vision.
Then Glenrowan. Cue men in armour, downpouring rain, gunfire, Ned making one heroic last stand (after another), orchestral accompaniment, more gunfire, innocent men, women, children, lions and monkeys shot by spineless city coppers. It works. It’s hard not to feel the mythic things grabbing you by the throat. Ned rises at dawn. It’s brave—like the landing at Gallipoli or a Collingwood Grand Final—and doomed.
It didn’t actually happen that way. But that’s not why we go to the movies.

Review: Reuben Ham from Movie Poop Shots
Source: http://www.moviepoopshoot.com/news/apr03/32.html

Gregor Jordan’s would-be national epic is ultimately more attractive for the mythical idea of its eponymous hero than for its technical execution. The only actor given opportunity here for something more than camp or window-dressing is Ledger himself, who could be Laurence Olivier or Martin Lawrence and not wring any more or less emotion from his audience in the title role, such is the tragic fatalism inherent in this already-well-known plot.
Ned Kelly (Heath Ledger) is an Irish-blooded boy punching and drinking his way into manhood in colonial Australia, tenderly taking care of his mother and siblings yet tangling with local cops due to his vigilante-style sense of justice. Partly due to the similarly aggressive chivalry of his cohorts – including brother Dan (Laurence Kinlan) and best friend Joe Byrne (Orlando Bloom) – Ned is heinously framed for assault by corrupt enforcers, and compelled to either capitulate to a confederation of cowards or flee with his honour intact.
The second act involves an all-in caper across Australian Tourist Board-approved terrain, in which close-ups of lorikeets or kookaburras burst out of the bloodshed, and in which Ned becomes increasingly dirty, increasingly bearded, and increasingly popular among the very bank clerks he is robbing. Eventually, police heavy Francis Hare (Geoffrey Rush, in the kind of role his reanimated corpse could play if it fell asleep on-set) receives word that there are only thirty minutes left in the film, and that he’d better round up a hundred blue-boys and corner the Kelly Gang in a Glenrowan hotel because the audience has waited long enough for the only genuinely thrilling scene in the picture.
It is the ensuing climactic shootout which single-handedly seals the Kelly legend; indeed, the sight of Ned standing alone in his homemade armour cutting down crooked policemen while being fired upon from four-hundred different directions simultaneously is an irrepressible heart-rush. It’s all a gloriously bloody, soggy mess, and you’ll leave the cinema breathlessly incensed at the death of the tin-helmeted one at the age of 25. More’s the pity, then, that the preceding two-thirds of the film are the equivalent of emotional souffle, shot through with an almost drunken lack of tonal control.
Ned’s romance with an aristocratic settler (Naomi Watts) seems shoehorned into the script twenty minutes before shooting, so painfully stilted is the interaction between the two. This subplot’s nadir is thankfully reached early in the film, as the soon-to-be lovers bond over the cleaning-out of a horse’s urethra in a scene more reminiscent of FREDDY GOT FINGERED than WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Watts, in particular, treads cinematic water so embarrassingly that one suspects she is present merely as an excuse for promos to trumpet “the up-and-coming star of such recent successes as MULHOLLAND DRIVE and THE RING.”
In short, Gregor Jordan and Co. should be thankful that Ned isn’t still alive, as he may well have held them to siege until celluloid justice had been somewhat restored.

Review: Ryan Lester from Movie Marshal
Source: http://www.moviemarshal.com/rr-nedkelly.html

Without a doubt, this would have to be the hardest film I’ve had to review in a while. On the one hand, the production values of this film are outstanding for an Aussie flick. Visually, the film is stunning and it’s glorious settings of a rural Australian outback really sets the tone for the film. On the other hand, the film is plagued by a very weak script and god-awful editing.
I for one was really anticipating the release of this film. Yeah sure, I jumped on the Ned Kelly bandwagon and I not ashamed of it. I wanted to see an Australian film become an international blockbuster. An Australian film, showcasing Australian talent whilst holding a true classic Australian tale. Ned Kelly was to be that film. For god sake just look at the cast. Leadger, Bloom, Watts and Rush are enough to get the overseas into awareness of the film. Believe it or not, there are more Americans that know about Ned Kelly than you think. So all in all, this film was to be the one. The film to break from the normal and oh-so repetitive Australian Film Industry and become an international hit that we can all be proud off! But sadly, this was not to be the case.
We all know what the film is based on, and the basics that we know is enough to understand the outcome of the film. So really, in a way, the story should have been the easiest job on the film. I mean really, we all knew the frigin story before the film was thought off. How in god’s name could you mess that up? This is the greatest weakness with the movie. Not so much it’s weak script, more so it’s attention to detail. You see, with a film that tries so hard for authenticity, it just doesn’t weigh up together in the end when the film looks real but just doesn’t feel it. Sure when Ned puts his hand on Naomi’s clean glowing skin his fingernails are dirty and gritty, as a bushranger’s hands should be. This is all good and well but if you can’t balance it out with the story it just doesn’t work.
On the plus side, Heath Leadger has really brought old Ned to life and has put in the performance of his career. Watts also makes the best of a pointless character & TV’s Secret life of us star Joel Edgerton really shines in a supporting role. Orlando Bloom really doesn’t have much to work with, but with the weak and dull dialogue he does scrape up he does his job. But who cares, he’s in there for eye candy for the girls. It’s a shame that Geoffrey Rush only had roughly 5min of screentime because it seemed like Rush was really lost in his character. It would have been nice to dive deeper inside his head. We all know he’s tough and bad and is going to catch the infamous Ned Kelly if it’s the last thing he does. Yes, yes we gather that. But why do we see even if only for a moment, a glimmer of sympathy that his Victorian Police Chief character shows for Ned. Perhaps at one point, even some understanding. We really needed some more depth with this part of the story.
Director Gregor Jordon really grabbed the attention of the Australian Movie going public with his brilliant Australian crime flick “Two Hands”. By the by, that film has now become one of my favourite Australian films of all time. But the talent and skill Jordan possessed back then is sadly not present in Ned Kelly. I’m sure that the editor really didn’t know what kind of film to put together either. Fantastic performances can’t hold the film on their own without the backup of a good director and an entertaining (and honest) screenplay. Such is the case here with Ned Kelly.
Credit should go to Jordan though for not exactly making Ned Kelly out to be a hero or a villain. Jordan seems to leave that decision up to the public. However, Jordan does seem to bring to life Ned’s run-ins with the law with a sense of misunderstandings or ‘Wrong place, wrong time’. So really, Ned was just an unlucky bastard!
Internationally I believe the film will do well. Perhaps make US$20-30 million in the states, and $10-15 million pounds in England where Bloom will bring in some numbers. But nothing more than that. Back home in Australia, the film will really struggle to pass $20 million, which basically will label it as a failure. Even the produces have said that they would need to at least pull in $30 million here in Australia to make any money. But I really can’t see it happening which is unfortunate.
Entertaining the film may be but the brilliance that we expected is nowhere to be seen. At the end of the day the film is just a big mess that should have been so much more. Perhaps a Directors Cut of the film will find it’s way on DVD. Entertaining, but at the same time disappointing.

Review: Ned Kelly: freedom fighter or villain? Bea Brear from green left
Source: http://www.greenleft.org.au/current/533p25.htm

26/03/03 'No hanging offence for Ned' (Garry Maddox, Film Writer)
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/03/25/1048354596548.html

So did the country's most famous bushranger really speak with an Irish accent as shown in the new film that premiered in Sydney last night? The director of Ned Kelly, Gregor Jordan, says it was quite a process deciding how Kelly, played by Heath Ledger, would speak. "There wasn't the Australian accent as we know it then," he says. "Ned Kelly was a second-generation Irishman. But both his parents were Irish, all his relatives were Irish, all his friends were Irish. "So we figured he's got to be speaking with an Irish accent." Ned speaks with a softened version of his father's Tipperary brogue - a hybrid of all the Irish accents that would have been used in Victoria at the time - after help from a Dublin dialect coach. Jordan says he realised during shooting how much of a hero the bushranger is for many Australians. "We had guys working on the film with Ned Kelly tattoos," he says. "And people would come up and say 'I used to pretend I was Ned Kelly in the sandpit when I was a little kid'.

"It starts to make you think 'hang on, this isn't just another movie to a lot of people. This is actually the movie about a guy they really love." Jordan puts all this interest down to a multitude of factors, including the appeal of a strong and rebellious character standing up to corrupt officials. It is also a bizarre story, he says. "These guys built themselves suits of armour out of ploughs and stood on the balcony in front of 200 policemen and opened fire. That's kind of nuts." Jordan wanted to show the role of fate in Kelly's life. It was a tragic sequence of events that led to the showdown with police at Glenrowan, he says. "If things had been different, Ned may have been a great union leader or politician ... It's just that events transpired that he became a bushranger and ended up being hung."
To appeal to a broad audience, the film-makers had no qualms about introducing a fictional romance and compressing some characters and events from the known facts about Kelly's life. "There are elements of the story that are fictionalised," says Jordan. "But they're inspired by an effort to help the audience understand the character better and to get the factual elements up on screen in the best way possible."
While he admits there were "abstract" discussions about Leonardo DiCaprio and Josh Hartnett, Jordan wanted to make the film only if Ledger played the bushranger. "I just thought it was very important to cast an Australian in the role. And Heath was the only guy.

25/03/03 'Ned Kelly star wants to call Australia home' (Jacqueline Maley)
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/03/24/1048354536945.html

After almost six years living in Los Angeles, Heath Ledger, star of Ned Kelly, is upping stakes and coming back to live in Australia. "I just think I deserve a meat pie every day," Ledger said in Sydney during a promotion tour for his new movie. "I'm just over it. I just want to come home. I've put in the hard yards". Looking out over a postcard view of the Opera House from his hotel in the Rocks, Ledger is an articulate speaker, but boyish with shyness as he fields questions. Earnest and self-deprecating, Ledger sits on his hands, jiggles red Converse-clad feet and strokes his patchy beard as he talks. But rather than seeming rude or impatient, he just comes across as slightly nervous. The hesitant manner seems eons away from the fierce strength of the armour-clad bushranger he plays in Ned Kelly, to be released this Thursday.

But Gregor Jordan, the film's Australian director and Ledger's close friend, must have known he had it in him. Jordan says he only agreed to do the film if Ledger was guaranteed the title role. It seems Ledger was made for the role. When he went to try on Ned Kelly's original iron armour, it was a perfect fit. "It was quite eerie actually ... we're the same height and the same body weight. He was skinny 'cause he was starving, I'm skinny 'cause I don't go to the gym." Ledger admits he was nervous playing the much-mythologised man at the centre of one of Australia's greatest stories. "There are pressures ... particularly this guy, because everyone has an opinion. But I just had to forget about those pressures, if I carried that ... through performing then it would have become a really self-conscious performance," he said.

Ledger "went to a very dark place" during filming, said Jordan. But Ledger has happier memories of the shoot: " I loved it, I loved the shoot from start to end and when we finished it, it was nothing but tears. We didn't want to the story to end, we didn't want Ned to die, it felt like he was dying again and we all wanted to keep shooting, something, anything."

Ledger used portraits of Kelly, letters he wrote and talented make-up artists to help transform himself into the celebrated outlaw. Despite his research, Ledger openly admits, "at the end of the day it is my opinion, there are very little facts on him, how he held himself and how he smiled, so it was a stab in the dark. I'm not preaching it as fact, I'm not saying this is the way he was. I just wanted to present him as a human being."

19/03/03 'Ned Kelly's rough ride' (Garry Maddox, Film Writer)
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/03/18/1047749770964.html

Ned Kelly has run into problems with officialdom yet again. To the dismay of its distributors, the Office of Film and Literature Classification has given the new film, which stars Heath Ledger as the legendary outlaw, an MA15+ rating.

The managing director of United International Pictures, Mike Selwyn, described the decision yesterday as flawed and ridiculous. He considered an M15+ rating appropriate for a film that went to great lengths to avoid gratuitous violence in depicting the events leading to Kelly's arrest at Glenrowan. "The film has been made in the most scrupulous way," Selwyn said. "Any scenes of killing have been cut as tight as can be."

UIP is appealing against the rating and expects to have a decision on Friday. The film, directed by Gregor Jordan and also starring Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush, Rachel Griffiths and Orlando Bloom, has its world premiere in Melbourne on Saturday, with the Sydney premiere next Tuesday. It opens in cinemas next week. While an M rating means the film is recommended for those aged 15 years and over, an MA means under-15s must be accompanied by an adult.

Members of the classification board were concerned about the shooting death of a policeman, the killing of the Kelly gang member Joe Byrne at Glenrowan and the implied suicide of two of the gang. Five thought the film should have an MA rating, four went for an M. Selwyn said he feared the higher rating would limit the number of students taken to see the film by schools. He considered the suicide scene to be handled sensitively and largely off-camera.

One of the film's executive producers, Tim Bevan, said from Los Angeles that the decision was a surprise since the filmmakers and distributors had liaised with the classification office during editing to get an M-rating. This involved cutting and toning down some shots. Bevan said he had no qualms showing his 11year-old daughter the film. "Gregor and I both want the film to be seen by as broad an audience as humanly possible," Bevan said. "What we wanted to do was make sure schoolkids could go and see it. But I assume schoolkids can still go and see it provided they've got a teacher.

15/03/03 'Hero or villain? Kelly movie expected to spark debate'
Source: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/03/14/1047583702008.html

Australia's fascination with its most famous outlaw will reach fever pitch later this month with the release of the latest movie based on his life. Starring Australian heart-throb Heath Ledger in the title role, the $34-million film Ned Kelly will premiere in Melbourne on March 22, and be released across the country five days later.

Tourist operators in ''Kelly country'', an area taking in parts of north-eastern Victoria and southern NSW, are anticipating the film will spark renewed interest in Kelly and debate about his actions. Gary Dean, who owns the Cobb and Co Museum at Glenrowan, the north-eastern Victorian town where Kelly appeared in his famous armour and was captured following a siege and shootout, said he thought some were ''not going to be very happy when this film comes out''. ''I'm sure it's going to produce heaps of controversy,'' he said. ''It will provoke more interest and more debate, no doubt about that. I just hope it's a lot of positives and not negatives about it.''

He said he had spoken to members of the Kelly family and they were hoping the film would show Ned's story fairly.

Mr Dean, who has been interested in the Kelly story since moving to Glenrowan in 1967, said he thought it was too early to make a film about Kelly's life when there was still much research to be done. He said there were still questions over whether Ned had a wife and daughter and whether his brother Dan didn't die in the Glenrowan siege but escaped. ''I think Ned deserves a decent film on him to tell his story ... his story deserves a true history made on it, not something that's been changed or glorified with things added to it because his story doesn't need that,'' he said.

Bob Hempel, who owns Glenrowan's Ned Kelly's Last Stand theme park, believes the film will have little to do with history. ''It's about only five per cent truth,'' he said. ''People think he's a hero. He's a bloody killer.''

The manager of the Beechworth Courthouse, where Kelly's committal hearing on charges over the Stringybark Creek police shootings was held, said she had also heard the film would be only five per cent fact but agreed it would renew interest in Ned Kelly. Andrea West said a Ned Kelly weekend of tours and talks in Beechworth on March 29 and 30 had been organised to ''piggyback'' off the release of the movie and would present the facts of his life. ''People can come up, talk to people who know (about Ned Kelly) and make their own decisions,'' she said.

But whatever the historical arguments that flow from the new film, Jerilderie Shire Council general manager Charles Gentner welcomes the attention it might draw to his town. Jerilderie, in south-western NSW, proudly declares itself the only town in the world to be ''locked up'' when Kelly and his gang took over for a weekend, rounding up all residents and holding them at bay while his gang robbed its bank in February 1879. It was also where Kelly dictated to gang member Joe Byrne the Jerilderie Letter, which sets out his motives and ideas for declaring the region a republic. Mr Gentner said the town, impacted by Australia's worst drought in 100 years, was aiming to promote its links with the bushranger and make itself self-sufficient through tourism. ''Our whole objective is to increase the debate and prominence of Ned Kelly,'' he said. ''The more films, the more debate. That's what it's all about, putting Jerilderie on the map.'' He said with 16 sites associated with Kelly, the town was second only to Glenrowan in importance to the bushranger's story. ''People can come and join the debate - was he a scoundrel or was he a Robin Hood,'' he said. ''They can see what the history said about Ned and make up their own mind what he was.''

The movie, Ned Kelly, is directed by Australian Gregor Jordan and also stars Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts and Orlando Bloom.

13/03/03 Ned Kelly: Hero or villain? (Reporter: Sonia Kruger)
Source: http://todaytonight.com.au/stories/512177.html

Ned Kelly is the most anticipated Australian film of the year and it's a film that stands and delivers Heath Ledger in the role of one of our best-known legends. People have always been fascinated with the story of Ned Kelly but according to Australia's foremost expert on bushrangers, Edgar Penzig, Kelly was no hero. "He was a villain, a colonial villain of the first degree," he said. "Every bushranging film - especially the ones on Kelly - seem to glorify him and make him out a folk hero but this is totally incorrect."

Director Gregor Jordan hit the history books before making the $31 million movie but it seems the real villain doesn't quite fit the picture. "All I'm asking the writers and film directors etc is to tell the truth and when the truth is known it is far more exciting than the fiction we have been fed for over 90 years," Mr Penzig said.
The action-packed film more than lives up to its massive expectations. And as for Kelly, it hasn't tarnished his reputation at all. In fact, he's more lovable than ever, portrayed as a hero of the people and a victim of corrupt Victorian police troops, led by Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush. The ensemble Australian cast includes Rachel Griffiths and Naomi Watts, whose on-screen romance with Ledger smoulders off-screen as well. "I'd hope one day to see a true bushranging film made which depicts how exciting these days were but do not glorify the criminals who were committing the crimes," Mr Penzig said.
Historical fact or fiction, there's no doubt there will be plenty of debate to follow Ned Kelly's certain box-office success.
Note to Mr Penzig 'yadda yadda yadda...'

1/03/03 'Ned's heavy metal a tough act to follow'
Source: www.thecouriermail.news.com.au

Pictured Heath Ledger in armour. Source: The Courier Mail

Heath Ledger – dressed in a 32kg iron suit – had to rest on specially reinforced chairs during the filming of the bushranger movie, Ned Kelly. Ledger said the authentic costumes enhanced his overall performance in the role – allowing him to really feel like the bushranger in a shoot-out scene between the police and his character at Glenrowan. "They had to make special chairs for us so we could rest on set and it took four people with tools to get it on, but I wanted to feel exactly what Ned felt when he stepped out at Glenrowan," he said. "I needed to know what it felt like to try and walk, manoeuvre and see with that on."

The film's armour-maker, Jonathon Leahey, built the distinctive suits as close as possible to show how the Kelly gear was made. "We started to make them in a forge out the back of my place and we forged everything in exactly the same way the originals were made, over logs and using the same tools," he said. "Basically because that's the only way you can achieve that look." Each suit consisted of a chest guard, back guard and apron, and was made using sheets of steel held with leather strapping and wire with rivets heated into the metal.
The helmets, which on their own weighed in at 4.5kg, were also created the same way.
Ned Kelly opens in cinemas on March 27.

1/02/03 'Flogging a dead Ned'
According to the Sydney Morning Herald
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/01/31/1043804519321.html

The marketing campaign for the biggest and most keenly awaited Australian film release of the year, Ned Kelly, begins in earnest today with the launch of striking billboard ads - Ned's latest hanging? - in capital cities, including, of course, Sydney.

The billboards feature the bearded visage of Heath Ledger as the bushranger. United International Pictures, the distributor of the film, based on Robert Drewe's book Our Sunshine, says the marketing budget for the film is more than $2.5 million. That makes it bigger than UIP's "media spend" for Gladiator or Mission Impossible. The marketing outlay for the movie, a blockbuster in Australian terms, with a budget of $34 million, is apparently right up there with the last big Australian flick, Moulin Rouge. Ned Kelly also stars Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom. Television ads will follow next month, with the world premiere set down for Melbourne on March 22.

If American executives of the Hollywood-backed film had got their way during filming, Ledger would not have been so hirsute in the ads. They reportedly wanted a clean-shaven Ledger but, with Heath threatening to walk, sanity - and history - prevailed and the beard stayed.

29/01/03 Cinema's anti-hero rides again
According to The Age www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/28/1043534055850

The bushranger - outlaw, convict, outsider, hero, villain, victim, republican, killer, wild colonial boy, symbol of lawlessness or resistance to oppression - is a significant motif in Australian art and popular culture, in everything from ballads and paintings, to plays, novels, poems and comic books. Sidney Nolan and the Sydney Olympic Games opening ceremony have both used armour-clad Ned Kelly as a potent figure; the Victorian cricket team calls itself the Bushrangers.

And the bushranger straddles the past and present of Australian movies. We can look back to 1906, with The Story of the Kelly Gang, believed by many to be the world's first feature film, and forward to a new Kelly movie, starring Heath Ledger, which will have its world premiere in Melbourne in March.
But in between, there has been an intriguing history of local and international production, a tale of achievement and failure, of opportunities taken and missed. Iron Helmets, Smoking Guns, a season of bushranger films that starts tomorrow at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, gives us a chance to survey that history - a story of what was made, but also what might have been, if an Australian ban on bushranging films, which came into force in 1912, had not stopped the development of the genre in its tracks.
Films with bushrangers as central characters continued to be made, but often with an air of caution, an unwillingness to offend the forces of law and order. Meanwhile, the American western, as academic and writer Bill Routt says, "became the financial and cultural underpinning of the American film industry".

The season covers nine decades of Australian cinema, from the "lost era" of the first decade of the 20th century, represented by tantalising fragments of film, to the 1993 Yahoo Serious comedy Reckless Kelly, in which the bushranger pits himself against the might of international banking. It also includes Tim Burstall's documentary short on Nolan's Kelly paintings, and a screening of the 1920 silent film Robbery Under Arms accompanied by an original score performed live by the Ang Fang Quartet.
And, of course, it features 1970's Ned Kelly, directed by Tony Richardson, the movie whose casting scandalised Australia at the time: an imported Ned played by Mick Jagger, then a youthful-looking figure with a cursory attempt at a beard and an Irish accent. As it happens, Jagger turns in an earnest, careful performance, in a film that takes Kelly seriously as a political figure, and certainly doesn't treat him as a rock'n'roll outlaw.
But for Natasha Gadd, the curator of Iron Helmets, Smoking Guns, the film of the decade is the 1976 Mad Dog Morgan, starring Dennis Hopper. Written and directed by Philippe Mora, the film shows Daniel "Mad Dog" Morgan as a disintegrating, outcast figure, brutalised by and implicated in the violence of the time. It's a vivid, violent, often hallucinatory film, a study of a figure in the process of disintegration. Hopper, clean-shaven at the beginning, then almost unrecognisable under a heavy beard, turns in a memorable performance as the manic, rampaging, increasingly fragmented figure of Morgan, pushed further and further towards the fringes of society. The film was well received at the time, says Gadd, but is rarely seen and hard to find: she hopes a new generation of viewers will rediscover it.
Both actors employ Irish accents. Both films use, in very different ways, a distinctive Australian landscape (the hill country that hides the bushrangers), and both make conspicuous use of music: Ned Kelly is punctuated by ballads, several of them by Waylon Jennings, while Mad Dog Morgan features the sounds of Gulpilil's didgeridoo. (The music of the Rolling Stones is on the soundtrack of a short experimental documentary, Stone in the Bush, on the making of the Jagger film, which screens with Mad Dog Morgan.)

Bushranger films have appeared in every important wave of Australian film activity, but there have been problems with production and visibility. Routt argues that bushranger films were "the single most important element of the first five years of Australian feature production", before the ban came into effect.
In a climate of caution, there are still, says Gadd, notable or distinctive bushranger movies. She cites one of the films in the season, Captain Thunderbolt, made in 1953 by Cecil Holmes. .
The figure of the bushranger was being mythologised in the popular imagination while the real-life figures were still operating, and bushranger plays were a staple of 19th-century drama, highly popular but also regularly subject to censorship. In a book published in London in 1899, The Story of the Australian Bushrangers, George Boxall reported on a show that opened in Melbourne just after Ned Kelly's execution, featuring Kelly's sister, Kate, in armour and mounted on her brother's grey mare, accompanying an exhibition of firearms and artefacts and a lecture. It went to Sydney, but was quickly banned, on the grounds that it was "tending towards immorality".
Boxall's book ends on a valedictory note, saying that "it was extremely improbable that there will ever again be a Frank Gardiner or a Ned Kelly to incite the young and the thoughtless to acts of violence". Bushranging, in fact, didn't end with the demise of the Kelly Gang. And the intense public interest in the figure of the bushranger did not subside. Neither did the fear of what it represented - that supposed power to incite.
But the bushranger film is another story, a lost genre twice over: first, because so little footage from the time survives; and second, because of the missed opportunity to develop a distinctive local form after that first intense period of creative activity. The ban, after all, had the effect of making films about bushrangers an outlaw activity in its own right, Routt says.

The Story of the Kelly Gang is believed by many to be the world's first feature. Only fragments have survived: some may be out-takes, and much of the footage is damaged. It has clearly been shot, however, by people thinking about how to use a camera, how to present action. And there is a scene of Kelly, clad in armour, making his last stand against the troopers that already has a mythologising, visually striking look.
The Story of the Kelly Gang was made by the Taits, already notable theatrical entrepreneurs, and it was extremely successful - it was even remade in 1910, with different actors and different scenes.
Bushranger presentations on the stage were already popular, a known quantity. And the Taits, says Routt, would have appreciated the idea of a feature occupying a whole program, a presentation in which all the profits were returned to the producers. This is an important part of the film's impact: its success probably influenced the high number of features produced in Australia at the time, in those early, pioneering years.
The bushranger movie, so prominent in that early burst of activity, never becomes as crucial or identifiable or distinctive as the western - it exists, perhaps, in its shadow.
"Because of the ban, and maybe for other reasons, the genre doesn't exist," says Routt. "But you assume, given the right production conditions, that it could have evolved into something interesting."
Iron Helmets, Smoking Guns screens at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square, from tomorrow to Monday.

17/01/03 'Melbourne to open Ned Kelly'
According to The Herald Sun

Melbourne will roll out the red carpet in March for the world premiere of the Australian-made film Ned Kelly.
Aussie screen stars Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts are all expected to attend the film's launch at the Regent Theatre on March 22.
Starring Heath Ledger as the notorious bushranger, the film was shot at various locations around Victoria. United International Pictures (UIP) marketing manager John Anderson said Melbourne was the obvious choice for the world premiere. "The state of Victoria is the historical backdrop for the story of Ned Kelly, and it made sense to hold the world premiere event in Melbourne," he said. "The film was shot on location throughout the Victorian countryside and the state is inexorably linked with this iconic Australian figure."
Ned Kelly, based on the book Our Sunshine, by Robert Drewe, will be released nationwide on March 27.

29/11/02 'Why make a hero of Ned Kelly?' Tim Maxfield
According to the Wellington Times

Ned Kelly will never really die while ever there are movie makers around. The new movie "Ned Kelly" which is to be directed by Gregor Jordan and filmed next year, must be about the fifth or sixth movie to be made on the life of this notorious bushranger.
While ever movie makers can see a dollar to be made out of the gullible public by producing a film of someone who they can mould to be a saint or a hero, even though that someone was probably one of the worst crooks in history, they will do it and the patrons of the movie world will believe everything they see on the big screen.
I believe Ned Kelly was no better than some of the young thugs and thieves we have roaming around today. So why make a hero out of him?
If they delved into the lives of some of our past (and present) political leaders, I think they would get a much more exciting story and it would make a better movie.
For full article go to the Wellington Times ...(Although it is really not worth the bother.)

28/11/02 'Watts balances Ledger in Kelly film' (Michael Bodey)
According to The Courier Mail

Guns have been drawn as Ned Kelly bids to become the next Australian blockbuster. The latest film incarnation of the famed bushranger looks to modernise the myth for a contemporary audience. Heath Ledger stars in the $31 million film, opposite Geoffrey Rush, Rachel Griffiths, Orlando Bloom and Naomi Watts, whom Ledger met and fell in love with on set. Watts plays Kelly's lover, Julia Cook, in Ned Kelly. "It's a small role but it's really a significant one," Watts said. Watts' new bankability as a Hollywood star, on the back of the strong worldwide box-office performance of her film The Ring, adds clout to what many film industry employees hope will rival 1995's "break-out" hit Shine, or even Moulin Rouge.

"Everything we're doing is positioning this not only as the biggest Australian film of next year but, more than that, as one of the big films of 2003," said UIP national marketing manager Jon Anderson. The film, loosely adapted from Robert Drewe's novel, Our Sunshine, and directed by Two Hands director Gregor Jordan, will be screened from March.

"I have huge hopes for it," said Watts. "It's obviously a wonderful story that we'll all be able to identify with and I think will also translate across the world.
"It's so wonderful we got this movie made with Australians playing Australians rather than having to pull in the American movie stars to get this movie made just based on their box-office appeal."

"There's a lot of general interest in it and because it's got Heath, Naomi and The Lord of the Rings' Orlando Bloom, it will appeal to younger audiences," Anderson said. "Yet Kelly's story has resonance with a wide variety of Australians who we might not normally get into the cinema."
Test screenings begin this week in Los Angeles.

9/11/02 'Ned Kelly gets the nod'
According to the Herald Sun

There was a lot of thought, much speculation, even some debate, but the makers of a film about legendary bushranger Ned Kelly have played it safe.
The film, starring Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts, will be called Ned Kelly, United International Pictures announced yesterday.
The announcement by the film's distributor followed speculation the film may be released under the titles The Kelly Gang or Our Sunshine, the name of the Robert Drewe novel on which the screenplay is based.
Ned Kelly will have its world premiere in Melbourne on March 27, 2003.

23/10/02 'Such is Life' short film

At 6pm on the 3rd of November, Donald Baigent will be showing his 40 minute film 'Such is Life', at 'Chapel Off Chapel' (Little Chapel Street, Melbourne). He wrote, directed, produced, acted, narrated, composed the music, and performed on the music, on this project, which has taken nearly 11 years to complete.
He writes, "It is a short film about my life from the age of 8. It shows the ups and downs of life. Living in an artistic family, and, the passion of Ned Kelly - that started when I was only 4 when my father directed & produced the only ever musical on the Kelly story called 'The Long Drop'. Of which you here the tail end of the main song, "Bloody Hands". That had a huge impact on me. ...all my historical notes came from JJ Kennealy, an author that Jim Kelly, the only surviving relative in 1929 at the time of publication, was given the thumbs up from Jim himself, that was good enough for me.
You see this whole story, I believe, is not about a man running around with a helmet, with a gang holding up banks, and taking people hostage, or killing policemen who were out to kill them. As stated in my film, "It's really the CROWN AGAINST THE SHAMROCK". It's that simple!"
"There is a cover charge of $10 to help pay with the screening costs, and if there is anything left over, I would like to take the film to festivals in Europe, and the UK - especially Ireland (there is some Gaelic in the film), and the States next year."

23/09/02 Kelly film here
According to The Chronicle wangaratta.yourguide.com

The Rural City of Wangaratta and Beechworth will feature highly in the filming of a Ned Kelly documentary which will reach Australian and international audiences.
Besieged - The Kelly Legacy is being produced by Film Projects, an Australian company whose directors are Gregory Miller and Georgia Wallace-Crabbe. It is an Australian/Irish co-production for television release in Australia and world-wide.

Being made with assistance from the Regional Victorian Development Fund, it is being funded through organisations including the Australian Film Commission and the Irish Film Board.
"The documentary is in pre-production," Mr Miller said. "We will be filming in October and November in Victoria. "We are filming at the locations where things happened. "A large part of it will be shot in Wangaratta (encompassing Glenrowan) and Beechworth.
"The whole area is deeply steeped in history." Mr Miller said, while the last two years had seen massive media attention to the Kelly story, not many documentaries had been made. "There is a lot of new information, much of which has come in the last 10 years, and it really hasn't been used."
Mr Miller described Besieged - The Kelly Legacy as a documentary, which would present the facts as accurately as possible.

It begins in Ireland, from where Ned Kelly's parents came, taking a look at his Irish descent and then tells the Kelly story from childhood to death. "We'll certainly have historians talking and be talking to people connected to the history. We're interested in how this has impacted across three to four generations of people, how it's affected people living in the area and their families. Up until very recently most of the descendants, both on the police and the Kelly sides, have been very reluctant to talk."
Mr Miller described the Ned Kelly story as "a tragedy for everyone concerned" but also as "an iconic story" which epitomised some of the things Australians admired such as the underdog rising up and bravery.

Besieged - The Kelly Legacy will be filmed as two television documentaries, with Irish and Australian versions of one hour maximum, and a longer version will be created for cinema release. It will feature recreation scenes, some of which may involve Beechworth theatre group members.

Mr Miller, who recently visited the North East, said he was impressed by both the restoration of Beechworth and the Rural City of Wangaratta's planned strategy for Glenrowan. "I think it is a very well-planned strategy, preserving and raising the level of preservation," Mr Miller said.

27/08/02 'Gruff Heath conceals other side of the Ledger'
According to The Daily Telegraph

A grumpy Heath Ledger has confirmed he is in a relationship with his Ned Kelly co-star Naomi Watts - but steadfastly declined to further elaborate. In New York promoting his latest release, The Four Feathers, 23-year-old Ledger was asked whether the relationship was current, whether it had started during production of the Kelly film - and what had drawn him and Watts, 33, together. "Yes, yes and something," was his reply. Heath also was glowing in his praise for Watts as an actress. "I think she's a brilliant actress, extremely talented," he said. "I've only seen her in a couple of things and I worked with her on Ned. I guess there's something extremely honest about her performance and it's unpolluted…It doesn't seem like it's affected by Hollywood or idealistic ways of performing. It just seems very natural."
For full story go to:

19/08/02 'Movie squabble over Ned Kelly' (Garry Maddox)
According to The Age Newspaper

Hollywood is messing with the title of the Ned Kelly film (based on Robert Drewe's novel Our Sunshine). The $US17 million film that finished shooting in Victoria recently, is due for release in March 2003.
The American distributor of the old version that starred Mick Jagger as Ned has forced a new working title for the version starring Heath Ledger. Unless the issue is resolved, it is likely that director Gregor Jordan's film will be released as The Kelly Gang instead of Ned Kelly. Executive producer Tim White said there were "issues relating to the clearance of its title" with American distributor MGM/UA. "We will determine in the near future just which title it's going to go out as," he said. While the naming dispute was awkward, he did not believe it would affect the film's success "especially to an American audience who will have a whole education process built around whatever title we run with".
"Without getting carried away, the expectation is big," said Mr White. "We're confident that it's the first really good rendition of the story." Mr White said Ledger would be a charismatic Ned Kelly. A few minutes of footage screened at the Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast at the weekend. Even in rough form, the film is shaping up as an epic tale featuring strong Irish accents from Ned and his gang.

The distributors of the other Ned Kelly film shot recently promoted the low-budget comedy Ned at the convention. Abe Forsythe from Always Greener plays the title role as well as writing and directing. His Ned Kelly rides a Shetland pony, does card tricks and has a gang member who wears a yellow dress and bonnet. It is expected, however, to be the first of the two versions to hit the cinemas.

15/06/02 'Naomi steps from jet to Ned Kelly set' (Rachelle Unreich)
According to the Herald Sun

Australian actor Naomi Watts has arrived in Melbourne to star in Ned Kelly, playing the love interest of Heath Ledger's outlaw. One of Australia's hottest new names in Hollywood, Watts flew in on Thursday night and yesterday went straight to the movie set. Watts described her role as that of "a highly spirited, independent woman who's married into quite a wealthy family". She explained, "And she is very intrigued by Ned Kelly because they both have a free spirit and feel like their destiny is being controlled by others."

She has two films out within the year -- Ring, a thriller, and Miramax's Plots With A View, also starring Brenda Blethyn and Christopher Walken. Success took its time coming for Watts. It has been more than 10 years since she appeared in the Australian movie Flirting with Noah Taylor and best friend Nicole Kidman. She said yesterday there was "a wonderful illusion that I'm fresh off the boat and that I've had this overnight success. Let me tell you, it's been a long night."
Though Los Angeles is her base, she said she had never called LA home. "This is home. From the moment I got on that Qantas plane last night it felt good." During her two-week stay in Melbourne she plans to see her friend and Ned Kelly co-star Rachel Griffiths in the Melbourne Theatre Company play Proof, and visit old haunts. "I haven't been to Melbourne in a long time."
Watts, who grew up in Sydney after emigrating from Wales at 14, said she shot Gross Misconduct here about 10 years ago and her favourite hangout was Caffe e Cucina.

For the most part, she said, she was just glad to be doing an Australian film again while overseas offers were plentiful. "I don't want to blow it," she said. "I'm not going to be seduced by big pay-cheques or big promises that this is going to be the movie that makes a hundred million dollars… I really just go for what I believe in, because then I know I can act my best stuff."

10/06/02 'Ballarat's people make it an ideal place to shoot a film' (Leonie Barlow)
According to The Ballarat Courier

The feature film's location manager Russell Boyd showered Ballarat with praise after filming of the $30 million production went off without a hitch in the city yesterday. Parts of Lydiard and Sturt Streets were closed between 5am and 5pm to accommodate the filming. Mr Boyd said, "We had a really great day with complete cooperation from shop trades people ... and the City of Ballarat went completely out of their way to accommodate us."

The shoot did not require any major actors but seventy extras, 50 crew and 20 horses and carts were used. While it took more than half-a-day to film three scenes, Ballarat's moment of fame will last just 15 seconds on the big screen. "It is a very important 15 seconds in the scheme of the film," Mr Boyd said. They had used Ballarat's heritage and grand old buildings to recreate Melbourne's Burke St in the 1800s. "With the effort Ballarat has made to preserve its old buildings, and the cooperation from the community, it is the ideal location."

City of Ballarat Cultural Development Unit acting general manager Tracey Hull said large crowds had made the most of the public holiday to view the spectacle and the street closures caused little disruption to traffic.

30/05/02 'Clunes revels well after Ned Kelly leaves town' (Karen Davis)
According to The Ballarat Courier

The main street of Clunes was quiet yesterday after filming there for the upcoming Ned Kelly movie was completed. The excitement continued for residents. Still marvelling over how authentic the main street appeared, curious locals and visitors alike took the chance to have a last look at the aged shop fronts and gravel covered street that transformed Fraser St into an 1880s Euroa and Jerilderie. The sets, which took about a month to build, will be pulled down over the next few days by crew with some of the smaller props already being taken down yesterday.

At a presentation for cast and crew thanking them for their efforts, townspeople were surprised and delighted when the film's star, Heath Ledger, moved past security guards to meet people, pose for photographs and autograph souvenirs. Cast members and the director were also presented with bottles of Clunes Gold 150 anniversary wine, with locals remarking on how approachable cast members were.

Extras and Clunes residents Matthew Cheshire and Graeme Johnstone had an exciting day on set yesterday.
"I've heard that they were very happy with the rushes from yesterday," Mr Johnstone said. "It was a great day, very exciting. The technology they are using is just incredible."
Mr Cheshire said he now had greater appreciation of how hard cast and crew worked. "You can see why it takes so much money to make a film," he said. "It was interesting to talk to the actors. What struck me most about Heath was his professionalism."

29/05/02 'Ned Kelly raids gold town' (Luke Dennehy)
According to the Herald Sun

The new Ned rode into the town of Clunes in central Victoria yesterday for a shooting of a different kind. Dressed meticulously in period costume and brandishing a replica handgun, Ledger was ready for action when yesterday's filming of Ned Kelly got under way. Clunes was buzzing with excitement when the star - sporting a bushy black beard and riding confidently on horseback - took his place for yesterday's scenes. Ned Kelly is expected to be released next year.

29/05/02 'Heath thrills country town' (Luke Dennehy and Matthew Frilingos)
According to news.com.au

Aiming a pistol with a desperate glint in his eye, Ned Kelly warns off curious bystanders. The legendary bushranger (played by Heath Ledger) took over a small rural town yesterday. The town of Clunes is being used for street scenes in the new movie Ned Kelly and yesterday filming was in full swing. Clunes locals (in particular several teenage girls) spent the day outside the set in a bid to catch a glimpse of home-grown heart-throb Ledger, 23.
Geoffrey Rush plays foppish Superintendent Hare, who hunts Kelly, while Watts plays the bandit's love interest Julia Cook. Orlando Bloom plays his lieutenant, Joe Byrne. Edgerton plays one of Kelly's gang members. (Note, actually he plays Aaron Sherritt). 'Ned Kelly', adapted from Robert Drewe's novel 'Our Sunshine', has attracted international publicity despite being in the early filming stages.

27/05/02 'Hollywood gives Clunes a history lesson' (Fergus Shiel)
According to The Age

Set designers have transported the town of Clunes (pop 1100) back in time for the $30 million movie about the revered and reviled bushranger Ned Kelly's life. About 100 cast and crew, plus several hundred extras will descend on Clunes (near Ballarat) tomorrow for a one day shoot, which will centre on Kelly robbing one of the town's two historic banks. Clune's heritage listed main street dates back to the 1850's. During the past three weeks the street has been transformed into both mid-19th century Jerilderie and Euroa. Director Gregor Jordan will be based at the town's Union Bank Arts Centre, and the actors will use the adjacent studio as their dressing room.

23/05/02 'Orlando out and about in Oz'
According to dazzled.com

Last Sunday, Orlando Bloom (Joe Byrne) and Heath Ledger (Ned) attended a speech by the Dalai Lama at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena.
For full story go to www.dazzled.com

23/05/02 Bacchus Marsh Express 'Ned Kelly rides again'
According to the Bacchus Marsh Express

During the past several weeks farmer Gavin Shea's property has been a hive of activity with a film crew preparing and shooting scenes for the production of the new Kelly movie. It was reported that Mr Boyd said, the location was chosen because it looked similar to parts of northern Victoria that Kelly frequented, but it was only an hour from Melbourne. He said the site is being used to recreate an event in the Warby Ranges, and that, two stone riders huts have been built on his land. One is for the post-bushfire scene, the other is a replica before it gets burnt down.

22/03/02 'Ned Kelly fever hits Clunes' (Karen Davis)
According to The Courier Ballarat

Ledger, along with other cast, crew and extras will descend on the town of Clunes next Tuesday to film key scenes of the $30 million movie, which will see the town's historic main street transformed into a scene from the 1800s. The street will be closed during filming, the road will be covered with period style gravel and facades for shop fronts are under construction. The State Bank building in the main street is being used as the backdrop for the main bank robbery. Hepburn Shire Council recreation and tourism officer Rebecca Clohesy said Clunes would be used as the towns of Jerilderie and Euroa.
For the full story go to yourguide: Ballarat

21/03/02 Melton Moorabool Leader 'Shooting Ned Kelly' (Penny Harrison)
According to Melton Moorabool Leader newspaper

A crew of more than a 100 accompanied the stars to an enclosed set on a private property off Long Forest Road on Tuesday for filming of the movies "post bushfire" scenes. Property owner Gavin O'Shea told the Leader that his peaceful bush property was transformed into a dramatic scene of troopers, led by Geoffry Rush trying to flush out Ned Kelly (Ledger) with a bush fire.
He said, "They only filmed for the one day, but are coming back in a few weeks to do the scene where Ned Kelly has to go back to help his brother when a branch knocks him off his horse."
The production company Working Title has worked closely with Moorabool council and the CFA in co-coordinating the bushfire scene.

11/05/02 Herald Sun 'Cool Britannia' (Claire Sutherland)

Co-chairman of Britain's film company 'Working Title', Tim Bevan is in Melbourne to oversee the start of production of the film 'The Kelly Gang'. Working Title films include 'Bridget Jones's Diary', 'Elizabeth', 'Notting Hill', and 'Fargo'. The recipe used for 'Elizabeth' and 'The Kelly Gang' is to find an historical tale, give it a sharp tweak, open in home territory, ride a wave of hype into the US.
says "My job isn't to make this film successful in Australia - if that doesn't happen then none of us have done our jobs very well - my job is to make this film a success around the rest of the world. We try to make films that are culturally representative of where we are, but that also are going to work well elsewhere."

2/05/02 The Age 'Ledger gets a shot at Ned Kelly' (Lawrie Zion)

Filming for the movie 'Ned Kelly' began in rural Victoria on Monday, and will continue for three months. Director Gregor Jordan claims he would not be making the film without Heath Ledger in the title role. As well as being "a friend and a very good person", Jordan says Heath has a real screen presence. He says, "He can really act - and he's powerful and commanding and has charm that audiences want to see". Jordan was enthusiastic about making the film with not only Heath but also many other Australian box office stars.

Jordan hopes the story will retain some of the book's more metaphysical dimensions, such as Kelly's almost primal relationship with the bush. But says he is also trying to incorporate as many facts as possible and to look at why the story is so captivating to Australians

2/05/02 Herald Sun 'Heath already a step ahead' (Michael Bodey)

Already Heath Ledger has trumped Mick Jagger. The first picture from the set of Australia's latest Ned Kelly film shows Ledger has committed to the outlaw's fully-fledged beard. Jagger could only manage some wispy bum-fluff in the limp 1970 film of the same name. And Ledger's director, Gregor Jordan, disclosed that Ledger will take on the full Irish accent for his portrayal. "It's going to be all Irish," said Jordan. "You realise, when researching his story, Ned was an Irishman even though he'd never been to Ireland."

Yet Kelly remains the quintessential Australian story, still attracting creative types 120 years after his hanging. He's part of the fabric of Australian culture, Jordan said. "He captures a spirit that Australians can really identify with, someone who's been picked on and persecuted and fights back. He's also someone who's not perfect, rough around the edges and a bit of a wild man. He's sort of the character that people wish they could be."

The Kelly story has attracted filmmakers and novelists since 1906, when the Taits filmed The Story of the Kelly Gang in Melbourne. It is regarded as the world's first feature film. Jordan's Ned Kelly, adapted from Robert Drewe's Our Sunshine, will likely beat two other Kelly films reportedly in development: a low-budget, straight-to-video spoof and an adaptation of Peter Carey's Booker Prize-winning novel, The True History of the Kelly Gang, directed by Neil Jordan. Brad Pitt has been whispered as its Kelly, although the film is now on hold.
Previously, Godfrey Cass, Bob Chitty, John Jarratt, John Waters, Yahoo Serious and Jagger played Kelly on screen, with varying success.

"I was talking to Bryan Brown about it," said Jordan. "For a young actor, what is there? There's Hamlet, but for an Australian, Kelly is the ultimate role." Ledger, who starred in Jordan's Two Hands, was the only actor considered for the role. "He's the right age for the role, has the level of charisma and the star power to justify the budget, and also he's an Australian. That combination is unique," he said. "For leading men under the age of 25 there's Leonardo DiCaprio, whose salary is stratospheric, and then basically there's just Heath Ledger and Josh Hartnett."

Ledger's commitment ensured this Ned Kelly not only has an unusually large budget for an Australian film, but arguably the highest profile cast ever assembled here. Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts, Rachel Griffiths, Joel Edgerton, Peter Phelps, Geoff Morrell, "Bud" Tingwell and The Lord of the Rings' star Orlando Bloom join Ledger on the shoot.

"It's actually more about Ned than it is about me," Jordan said of the casting. "I had so much interest from actors around the world about this film because it's a story that captures people's imagination."

The last decade has seen that interest peak with a comprehensive biography (Ian Jones's Ned Kelly A Short Life), Drewe's and Carey's novels and a growing interest in art featuring Ned Kelly. Sidney Nolan's River Crossing sold for $261,750 - $60,000 more than expected - this week in Melbourne

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My thanks to the various sources who brought to my attention many of the above articles, reviews and information, particularly D. White, L. Cowie, and S. Hollingsworth.


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