Movie Press Release 29/04/02
WATTS TO STAR OPPOSITE HEATH LEDGER IN "NED KELLY"
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 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)
NED KELLY - HEATH LEDGER
NED (10 yrs) - CODY O'PREY *
JOE BYRNE - ORLANDO BLOOM
FRANCIS HARE - GEOFFREY
JULIA COOK- NAOMI WATTS
DAN KELLY - LAURENCE KINLAN
KELLY - KERRY CONDON *
RED KELLY - PETER YOUNG *
STEVE HART - PHILIP BARANTINI
AARON SHERRITT - JOEL EDGERTON
ALEX FITZPATRICK - KIRI PARAMORE
GRACE KELLY - EMILY BROWNING
ELLEN KELLY - KRIS McQUADE
JANE JONES - SASKIA BURMEISTER
THOMAS LONIGAN - PETER PHELPS
MR REARDON - PETER O'SHEA
MARTIN CHERRY - NICK BOURKE
ISAIAH "WILD" WRIGHT - RUSSEL DYKSTRA
TOM LLOYD - NICHOLAS FARNELL
THOMAS CURNOW - CHRISTOPHER BAKER
MR SCOTT - GEOFF MORELL
BRACKEN - BRIAN WRAY
THOMAS McINTYRE - TIM WRIGHT
MRS SCOTT - RACHEL GRIFFITHS
KENNEDY - ANTHONY HAYES
- JOHN MUIRHEAD
CONSTABLE HALL - RUSSELL GILBERT
PREMIER BERRY - CHARLES "BUD" TINGWELL
Ned Kelly www.nedkellythemovie.com/
Boxoffice Online 'Outback
Movies.com Movie details
(and gossip) movies.go.com/movies/N/nedkelly_2003/
Counting down.com www.countingdown.com/movies/nedkelly
Ned Kelly, dir. Gregor
Jordan. If Ned Kelly hadnt lived it would have been necessary to
invent him. He is the outlaw legend par excellence, our cultures
pre-eminent survival myth, built on distortions, half-truths and widely
agreed misperceptionsa 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 were away (with an underlying
sense of trepidation that its 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 mothers unjust imprisonment and seek justice
for all who suffer under a tyrants yoke.
Theres a breathtaking ruthlessness to the narrative, and in a way,
that works. Nothing to complicate the moral clarity of Neds 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. Its hard not to feel the mythic things grabbing
you by the throat. Ned rises at dawn. Its bravelike the landing
at Gallipoli or a Collingwood Grand Finaland doomed.
It didnt actually happen that way. But thats not why we go
to the movies.
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 hed 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. Its
all a gloriously bloody, soggy mess, and youll leave the cinema
breathlessly incensed at the death of the tin-helmeted one at the age
of 25. Mores 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.
Neds 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 subplots nadir is thankfully
reached early in the film, as the soon-to-be lovers bond over the cleaning-out
of a horses 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 isnt
still alive, as he may well have held them to siege until celluloid justice
had been somewhat restored.
Without a doubt,
this would have to be the hardest film Ive 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 its 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
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 gods
name could you mess that up? This is the greatest weakness with the movie.
Not so much its weak script, more so its attention to detail.
You see, with a film that tries so hard for authenticity, it just doesnt
weigh up together in the end when the film looks real but just doesnt
feel it. Sure when Ned puts his hand on Naomis clean glowing skin
his fingernails are dirty and gritty, as a bushrangers hands should
be. This is all good and well but if you cant balance it out with
the story it just doesnt 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 & TVs Secret life of us star Joel Edgerton
really shines in a supporting role. Orlando Bloom really doesnt
have much to work with, but with the weak and dull dialogue he does scrape
up he does his job. But who cares, hes in there for eye candy for
the girls. Its 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 hes
tough and bad and is going to catch the infamous Ned Kelly if its
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. Im sure that the editor really
didnt know what kind of film to put together either. Fantastic performances
cant 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
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 Neds 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 cant 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
its way on DVD. Entertaining, but at the same time disappointing.
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
"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.
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,"
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."
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
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
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
He said he had spoken to members
of the Kelly family and they were hoping the film would show Ned's story
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.
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
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...'
Pictured Heath Ledger in armour. Source:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.)
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
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."
Helmets, Smoking Guns
screens at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square,
from tomorrow to Monday.
17/01/03 'Melbourne to open
According to The Herald Sun
Melbourne will roll out the
red carpet in March for the world premiere of the Australian-made film
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
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
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.
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
According to the Herald
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
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
seem like it's affected by Hollywood or idealistic ways of performing.
It just seems very natural."
For full story go to: www.dailytelegraph.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,4975803%255E12216,00.html
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
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
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.
'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.
'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:
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.
Bevan 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
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
to Top of Page>>
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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