True History of the Kelly Gang
The Half of It
Beastie Boys Story
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I have never in my life turned off a movie or series faster and never wanted to watch any part of it.
Oof is right. I can only rightly review the first half since I didn't make it through the whole thing. It was definitely not the movie I was expecting. As much I enjoyed the eye candy courtesy of Charlie H., the movie, at least the 1st half, was bizarre. Things were happening without context, leaving you confused. I had a lot of "WTF did I just watch" moments.
Overall an interesting story, but lacks context and at the end it just feels very odd.
I love this movies actually
This latest attempt to update the Ned Kelly mythology desperately tries to be post-modern but ends up somewhere between Mad Max and Romper Stomper by way of Yahoo Serious- without the fun...
Absolute garbage. Never been so disappointed watching a film. Really bad and presumptuous. Just awful.
Beautiful piece of filmmaking except for the script. It seemed like the director had to try and polish a steaming pile of dog poo.
Truth or lies? Hero or outlaw? We might never know or agree, but that is how legends are born, and this film is a perfect description of a legend: bold, violent, direct, artistic and with a photography difficult to forget. A modern semi-biographical aussie western.
I think where this film shines is the visuals Justin Kurzel presents are amazingly gorgeous for being within rural potions of Australia it is often beautifully stylized with a lot of interesting choices when it comes to what we the audience are allowed to see in the frame, The biggest thing holding this film back is that every single character is despicable and I do mean "despicable" like that guy should not be allowed women or children or anyone for that matter. Although within the context of this movie the story revolves around a family of violent bandits with a protagonist whose role models were themselves totally despicable murderers and bushwhackers. This film had me thinking about the movie The Proposition and how I favored the protagonist Guy Pierce plays in Charlie, who is a bandit who seeks redemption and the freedom of his brother by hunting down his violent eldest brother. Such a protagonist is not to be found in this film which makes me ponder why I liked this film so much. I think it may be that it is a really interesting study of what masculinity is and if it is even real or just some social construct that is devoid of real quantifiable form.
Is the truth relevant in myth-making?
Based on Peter Carey's 2000 novel, written for the screen by Shaun Grant, and directed by Justin Kurzel, True History of the Kelly Gang is a film about the lies at the heart of cultural myth-making, about how every myth is a fiction, a subjective interpretation and reframing of real events. Importantly, as with the novel, True History is itself a work of fiction which invents characters and incidents, weaving such elements into what we know of the real Ned Kelly. Rugged, fierce, bleak, and exhausting, if you're looking for casual entertainment along the lines of Gregor Jordan's Ned Kelly (2003), you'll be disappointed, but if you want something complex and esoteric, you could do worse than True History.
The film takes the form of a memoir Ned Kelly (George MacKay) is writing for his daughter, so she can know the man behind the myth. Meeting him at age 12 (played by an exceptional Orlando Schwerdt), we're introduced to his mother Ellen (a ferocious Essie Davis), his drunk father John 'Red' Kelly (Gentle Ben Corbett), his two younger siblings, Sgt. O'Neill (Charlie Hunnam proving once again he can't do accents; I think he's supposed to be Welsh), and Harry Power (Russell Crowe), a notorious bushranger. Years later, the now-adult Kelly meets the hedonistic Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick (a slimy Nicolas Hoult) and the good-natured Mary Hearn (the exceptional Thomasin McKenzie), with whom he begins a relationship. However, after a disagreement with Fitzpatrick, Kelly finds himself on the run, accompanied by his friend and possible lover Joe Byrne (Sean Keenan), his brother Dan (Earl Cave), and Dan's friend Steve Hart (Louis Hewison). Recruiting young men fed up with British colonialism, Kelly forms the Kelly Gang, and as their reputation grows, the authorities determine to hunt them down at all costs.
Much of the detail in True History is fabricated, as it was in the novel. For example, Mary is a fictitious character, and as far as we know, Kelly had no children. Another fabrication is the Kelly Gang's tendency to proclaim themselves "The Sons of Sieve", a reference to an Irish secret society which Carey invented. Perhaps the most controversial fictional element concerns Kelly's sexuality. There's a strong Oedipal undertone throughout the first act, and later, Kelly is presented in a manner that suggests bisexuality. The scene where we first meet Joe, for example, sees him and Kelly playfully wrestling for a book, and later he has a conversation with a naked Fitzpatrick with unmistakable homoerotic chemistry.
The issue of lies, myth-making, and fabrication is introduced immediately, with the opening caption telling us, "nothing you are about to see is true". Subsequently, one of the first lines of dialogue is Kelly warning his daughter about people who will "confuse fiction for fact", saying that the only account she can accept as true is his own, because "every man should be the author of his own history". The irony in all of this is that in real life, Kelly never wrote such a manuscript for his daughter because he never had a daughter, thus creating more layers atop the dichotomy of calling the film "True History" and immediately asserting none of it is true.
The film falls somewhere between the two extremes of Kelly scholarship – a hero for the common man or a psychopathic murderer. Although we see his horrible childhood and years of British oppression, so to do we see the callous murder of three policemen in 1878; all unarmed, two already surrendered. The Ned Kelly seen here is a savage – he's nothing like the anti-establishment punk played by Mick Jagger in Tony Richardson's Ned Kelly (1970) nor the charming rogue played by Heath Ledger in Jordan's film – he's a violent blood-thirsty sociopath who kills because he enjoys it.
The film's greatest strength, however, is the mesmeric cinematography by Ari Wegner. She excels especially during the climactic shootout at Glenrowan - a shot of police in the dark that renders them luminescent; a confusing and claustrophobic POV shot from inside Kelly's helmet; a shot of a raging fire, the flames highlighted against the pitch-black night. It's an exceptionally beautiful scene.
In terms of problems, Hunnam's accent is hilariously bad, and the film is a little slow in places, with the narrative sagging a couple of times. And, as I already said, those expecting something in the vein of Jordan's 2003 film will be sorely disappointed.
A starkly beautiful, psychologically taxing, thematically complex film, True History acknowledges the difficulty of getting to the reality of such a widely known symbol as Ned Kelly - a process during which truth is jettisoned early. However, just how important is the truth anyway? Why not let the legend supersede fact? Does truth really matter all that much when dealing with something as significant as a national mythos?