From Mick Jagger to Heath Ledger: Australia's bungled quest to make a great Ned Kelly film

Luke Buckmaster The quest to make a great Ned Kelly movie has consumed Australian film-makers since the dawn of cinema, even playing a part in the formation of the medium itself: 1906’s The Story of the Kelly Gang was not only Australia’s first ever feature film, but the first made anywhere in the world. Since then, the legendary bushranger’s cinematic journey has proven long and chequered, but enters an exciting new phase with South Australia-born director Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of Peter Carey’s critically acclaimed novel True History of the Kelly Gang, which begins shooting in Victoria in March. The cast was announced earlier this month , with English actor George MacKay assigned the all-important, bushy-bearded, gun-toting role. He’ll be joined by heavy hitters Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult and Essie Davis. But by far the most significant person attached to the film is Kurzel himself. In the history of the cinema, I doubt there has ever been a better or more exciting choice of film-maker to bring the famous outlaw and folk hero’s story to the screen. The word “auteur” is often considered in terms of genres and storytelling techniques; in Kurzel’s oeuvre it is more about evoking a certain […]

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