Interview: Picking Up The Peaces
Unions: The Royal Con
National Focus: Around the Grounds
Economics: The Secret War on Trade
International: United Front
History: Confessions of a Badge Collector
Politics: Stalin’s Legacy
Review: Such Was Not Ned’s Life
Poetry: Osama's Top Recruiter
Satire: Woolworths CEO Denied Bonus After Company Posts Profit
The Locker Room
The Fog of War
Trots Bomb Back
Such Was Not Ned’s Life
Back when Ned Kelly rocked the country with his flagrant refusal to be censored by law, he spoke out on behalf of many who had been similarly downtrodden.
This was a man who when robbing a bank at Jerilderie in 1878, took time to dictate a 56 page manifesto in which he not only protested his inherent innocence but detailed the corruption of the legal system, declared the impotence of the Crown against people power, and requested a portion of his booty be donated toward a widow and orphan fund. "I am a widow's son outlawed and my orders must be obeyed," he signed off.
Throughout Ned's short life he exposed the impact of a class system gone wrong and threatened an uprising that struck fear into the power holders of the day.
Not only were his oppressors outnumbered by those tired of being unjustly kept down, but the protection the law afforded them could no longer be trusted to keep a charismatic villain such as Ned in his place. And he had friends. Not in high places but in lots of places. And not even placing a massive reward on his head could force them to sell out on their outspoken representative-by-default.
As a historical icon Ned had it all: an outrageous sense of theatre, a superhuman courage, a profound love for his family, a ridiculous yet effective suit of armor, a surprisingly light hearted sense of humour, and his insistence that he was fighting not only for his own freedom but for the justice of all who were oppressed.
The portrayal of these aspects of character is among the movie's many highlights.
But these are severely diminished by the numerous fictional scenes that have been disconcertingly woven in to further window dress the story.
Many of these are superfluous, disconnected and reduce the impact of the movie. On one hand the audience is presented with Ned fighting to have the reality of his situation acknowledged, imploring that he is criminal only so much as he has been forced to become.
And then we are suddenly presented with a camel crossing the street, a lion being plied with bullet holes out the back, and a truckload of circus performers going down with the ship.
While some of these additions are welcome, such an outrageous cameo by Rachel Griffiths as an extravagant and promiscuous high society woman (sporting a bloody awful accent), others are downright cheeky.
Among the latter is the addition of a married, upper class love interest that could have proved Ned was framed for horse stealing because he was 'with her' at the time. But, fearing falling foul of her husband, she refuses to be his alibi.
Seeing the facts only as a point of departure in this case is damaging because Ned Kelly aimed to project himself as an inherently innocent man, a victim of injustice, and an outspoken truth teller that would not be quieted the law, societal conventions, or the class system.
But when movie ticket sales are at stake, not even Ned can have his way.
Rating: six-and-a-half out of ten (doubtful defence)
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