September 11, 2004

Ned Kelly

Sometimes the story is too big for the film. Or the character is too big for the actor. Some combinaton of these conditions exist with Ned Kelly. Don't get me wrong; the film is actually quite good and the portrayals top notch. Heath Ledger's version of Ned is pretty heart-rendering. In this film you see a tortured man who was driven into being an outlaw by his standards of justice. And, although I'm not an expert on Kelly's legend, this is what history has made him to be. As the viewer you have no problem pulling for him against the coppers, led by Geoffrey Rush's Francis Hare.

We were inspired to watch this -- using one of our free pay-per-views we got when we signed up for Sunflower Broadband -- in large part due to my wife's admiration of Orlando Bloom and his Legolas from you-know-what. He plays Joe Byrne, rogue and Ned's closest friend, with an edge.

The film tries to show how important Ned Kelly was to the Australian people at the time and in history, but all you really get is a very crafty outlaw pursued by police. An outlaw you have to love and admire because you can see that he's really not evil, and he's obviously a lot smarter than those who pursue him.

But at the end of the film, you see one of those text messages that come up to explain what happened later. It says that Ned was hanged even though petitions bearing 32,000 signatures were submitted pleading for Ned's life. This tells me that the full story of Ned Kelly's affect on Aussie-land likely cannot be told in a 2 hour film.

I wondered why I hadn't heard too much of the film, so I looked at IMBD's report on earnings. When it was released in the U.S. it was only on 22 screens. For some reason it just didn't get a distribution that was worth a shit. Perhaps it was due to my old gripe with dialect films, one that I have repeated here often. I couldn't understand most of the dialog through Ned's and his colleagues' Irish brogues. (Ned was born in Aus but his people were Irish. You know how they are.)

Posted by Wayne at September 11, 2004 05:35 PM
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