The Story of the Kelly Gang

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The Story of the Kelly Gang is a 1906 Australian film that traces the life of the legendary bushranger Ned Kelly (1855–1880). It was written and directed by Charles Tait. The film's approximate reel length was 4,000 feet (1,200 m).[1] It was released in Australia on 26 December 1906 and in the UK in January 1908.[2][3] The film cost an estimated £1,125 and was filmed in Melbourne, including the suburbs of St Kilda (indoor scenes), Eltham, Greensborough, Heidelberg, Mitcham, and Rosanna.[4]

Only about 10 minutes[5] were known to have survived. In November 2006, the National Film and Sound Archive released a new digital restoration which incorporated 11 minutes of material recently discovered in the United Kingdom. The restoration now is 17 minutes long and includes the key scene of Kelly's last stand. However, a copy of the programme booklet has also survived, containing both extracts from contemporary newspaper reports of the capture of the gang, and a synopsis of the film, in six 'scenes'. The latter provided audiences with the sort of information later provided by intertitles, and can help historians imagine what the film may have been like.

In 2007 The Story of the Kelly Gang was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register for being the world's first full-length feature film.[6]

Contents

Plot

The Story of the Kelly Gang's tone is of sorrow, depicting Ned Kelly as "the Last of the Bushrangers, and his friends Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne," presenting the police hiding under the bed when Aaron Sherritt is shot ('This is the Only Blot on the Police,') and portraying school master Curnow's action of warning the train as heroic ('Thank God, he Saved the Train.')

Among the surviving images are two scenes that suggest considerable sophistication for that time. The scene of the police shooting parrots in the bush skillfully positions the shooter in the middle ground to the left of the image, firing upwards toward the far right, with the gang watching him from close foreground. The capture of Ned is shot from the viewpoint of the police, as Ned advances, an impressive figure weaving towards them under the weight of his armour and the shock of the bullets.

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