A Kelly Movie based solely on the facts and the evidence….

My favourite Ned. 

Hard on the heels of the terrific bushranger movie, ‘The Legend of Ben Hall’, comes the announcement from the same Director of a crowdfunding campaign, beginning later this month to make another Bushranger movie. This was not unexpected as all throughout the campaign to fund produce and then promote ‘The Legend of Ben Hall’, Matthew Holmes constantly referred to it as being just the first of a series of films about Bushrangers. However what isunexpected, is that rather than making movies about John Vane and Frank Gardner, the ‘prequel’ movies he had repeatedly said he would produce next, he has instead decided to make a movie about Ned Kelly. Why he has changed his mind is not explained anywhere that I can find, but I suspect it has something to do with the two hard-core Kelly sympathisers who took Matthew on a tour of various Kelly related historical sites recently. They posted video-clips on Facebook that show them explaining to Matthew the significance of the various places and what happened there. He seemed quite impressed by it all, and is now proclaiming that this Ned Kelly movie will be unlike any other because it will be ‘free of prejudice or agenda, based solely on the facts and the evidence we have on hand. Not based on a novel or an opinion, not mingled with Hollywood fancy and nonsense”. He’s enlisted the help of these two Kelly sympathisers as screenwriters and at every opportunity is stressing that this movie will be as historically accurate as he can make it.
The idea of a movie about Ned Kelly that’s based ‘solely on the facts and the evidence we have on hand, not based on a novel or an opinion’ is a terrific one, and would be a movie I would certainly love to see.  Kelly sympathisers in their scores are applauding him and getting very excited at the prospect, and with good reason because Matthew Holmes first feature film on the Legend of Ben Hall has shown he certainly has the ability to do it.
So what would a Kelly movie that ignores ‘opinion’ and is based on facts and the evidence at hand look like? Well, if Holmes is going to continue with the same approach used in his first movie, he is going to make extensive use of the newspaper reports of the time, of Police records and Court reports, as well as contemporary writings, and isn’t going to rely on ‘opinion’ which is what ‘folklore’ and ‘oral tradition’ mostly is.  And just as he accepted guidance and advice from a modern day Hall historian, Peter Bradley, he should look to modern day Kelly historians for advice and guidance in the same way. Here I am not referring to the old guard who cooked up the modern Kelly myth, people like Jones and McMenomy, or the rank amateur co-screenwriter who grandly calls himself a Kelly historian, but people like Ian MacFarlane, Dr Russell Scott, Doug Morrissey, Stuart Dawson and Grantlee Kieza. These people are all serious academics and historians and cannot be ignored as they are part of the ‘evidence on hand’ They have added insights and knowledge to the Kelly story that wasn’t around 50 years ago when the modern Kelly myths were first developed.
To start with then Holmes will not be able to suggest the Kellys were persecuted and hounded by the Police and that Ned Kelly was a Police-made criminal. This idea was invented by Ned Kelly and proclaimed in the Jerilderie Letter, the tired refrain of criminals down the ages and an opinion repeated by Kelly sympatisers that its all the polices fault.  Its the most central of all the Kelly myths, the one that in the minds of Kelly sympathisers justifies everything that happened once Ned Kelly decided to rebel against it. However, as Ive shown on this Blog by careful review of the actual details recorded in the news and the court reports of the time, there is no support for that idea at all – its a myth.  The records show that the police took almost no interest in Neds’ immediate family until after Red had died, and later, when Ned was apparently ‘going straight’ the Police again took no interest in their lives; the records also show that the Kelly’s court appearances were for actual crimes and followed genuine complaints rather than the purported manufactured excuses to harass them; the Court records show that whenever Kellys appeared in Court they were treated according to the Law; charges were often dismissed or reduced, and sentences were remitted for good behaviour; the 1881 Royal Commission said there was no such persecution. The record also shows that in 1877 Nicholson ordered the Police NOT to upset or trouble the Kellys in any way, unless they committed a crime, even a paltry one. By then, Ned Kelly had been in Gaol for assault and indecency, had avoided a conviction for assaulting a Chinaman on the dubious testimony of associates, and served three years for horse theft. Doug Morrissey revealed why that conviction was fair, for its time, and not a travesty as always asserted by Kelly supporters.  Many other members of the extended Kelly and Quinn dynasties and various members of the Greta mob had also been before the Courts and served time in jail – by 1877 the Police were running out of patience. These are the facts supported by the documentary evidence of police and court records and newspaper reports from the time. The idea that the Kellys were persecuted and unfairly victimised by Police is a claim made by Ned Kelly, an opinion unsupported by evidence, and nothing else. It shouldn’t be in any movie based ‘solely on the facts and the evidence’.
When it comes to the so-called Fitzpatrick incident, Holmes will be obliged to portray Ned Kelly as having been there, because that’s what the evidence shows. The only ‘evidence’ that he wasn’t there are Neds own words, which even Ian Jones regards as lies. Holmes will have to take into consideration Ian MacFarlane and Stuart Dawsons writings about Fitzpatrick, who has been forever maligned on the basis of the unsubstantiated claims of a fellow Policeman. The documentary evidence regarding Fitzpatrick in 1880  is a petition,  signed  by more than 100 people including JPs and an MP, wherein he is described among other things as “zealous diligent obliging and universally liked”. So is Holmes going to prefer an unsubstantiated allegation that has been used to blacken the name of Fitzpatrick from 1878 till now, or an actual contemporary document?  Kelly sympathisers love to express great moral outrage at the way Fitzpatrick conducted his private affairs as a young man, but they were nothing out of the ordinary – Ben Hall had numerous girlfriends and affairs but he is not condemned for it! So, it is generally accepted did Joe Byrne, and Aaron Sherrit, and when have any of the Kelly sympathisers applied the same moral judgement to Mrs Kelly who also had lovers and illegitimate children? But if Fitzpatrick subsequently behaved badly, could that not be a consequence of the appalling manner in which he was publicly humiliated by the Police force who made a scapegoat of him and dismissed him on the uncorroborated word of a  senior colleague? The Royal Commission however did NOT condemn Fitzpatricks actions at Greta, though without asking for any corroboration it mistakenly accepted the later criticisms of him. 
And what is Matthew Holmes going to make of Stringybark Creek? Is he going to recycle the unsubstantiated myths about ‘body straps’, the wrong imputation that being in plain clothes meant the police were in disguise, the oft repeated nonsense about the police being ‘armed to the teeth’? None of these familiar lines from the Kelly mythology is supported by any actual evidence, but are merely the kind of “opinions” that Holmes said will not be informing the movie – he wants facts, so those furphies will be excluded! Is he going to accept Kellys claim that he killed Lonigan in self-defence with a single shot when he lifted his head up from behind a log – or the evidence from the autopsy? This showed that Lonigan had not one but four wounds, all inflicted while he was alive and several were in places that couldn’t possibly have been hit if Lonigan was behind a log. That evidence, and McIntyres testimony show that Lonigan was shot almost immediately after he was ordered to bail up, when he hesitated to do exactly what Kelly demanded. The evidence and the facts here show Kelly lied. Is he going to portray Kennedy’s murder as a mercy killing, as Ned Kelly  sanctimoniously pretended it to be, or as the sinister hunting down of a man fleeing for his life, only to be killed once his revolver was spent? The word of a  proven liar is the only evidence to support the former scenario over the actual  forensic evidence and the details from the crime scene, a long way away from the Camp where the original attack took place.
Then there is Glenrowan, the place where Holmes co-screenwriter Steve Jager claims Ned Kelly planned to start a civil war as a prelude to declaring north-east Victoria a Republic. There is simply not one piece of documentary evidence to support this idea, and the evidence we DO have about why Ned Kelly embarked on this ‘madness’ as Ian Jones called it, is that he was acting out his hatred of police and possibly also hoping somehow to free his mother from prison, even though by mid 1880 she had only a few more months left on her sentence. Is he going to portray the gathering of prisoners in the Ann Jones Inn as a hilarious bit of fun or as a terrifying experience for many of them and a demonstration of Kelly’s utter disregard for the lives of innocent men women and children? They were all deliberately placed in harm’s way and kept there even when it was evident to everyone once the  ghastly horror of a train smash had been averted that the plan had failed and the only possible outcomes for the gang were either capture or death. Who is Holmes going to portray as being ultimately responsible for the loss of innocent life there? And is Holmes commitment to telling the truth sufficiently robust to allow him to expose Kellys plan for Glenrowan as being a mass killing that would have had a toll of innocent lives similar to the Port Arthur massacre? Is that not a fact? Is Holmes going to allow the question to be asked of Ned Kelly “Why wasn’t killing three Police enough?”
My guess is that Holmes will succeed in making an entertaining and exciting movie – it would need an appallingly bad Director to make a movie about the life of Ned Kelly that wasn’t! However, unlike his great first movie, The Legend of Ben Hall, I very much doubt his version of the Life of Ned Kelly will be ‘free of prejudice or agenda, based on facts and the evidence on hand, not based on a novel or opinion’. In fact I am almost certain he will pass up this golden opportunity to do something really radical with the Kelly legend and tell the truth about it at last, but instead serve up yet another recycling of the tedious Kelly mythology that modern Australia is actually moving on from. And this is why:
Firstly he has written on Facebook that there is no feature film to date that has explored the Kelly story completely and accurately, with the exception of Ian Jones’ ‘The Last Outlaw’. The Last Outlaw, the 1980 TV miniseries was widely acclaimed and is still popular amongst Kelly sympathisers, but it is laden with unhistorical Kelly myths and legends, and portrays Ned as the hard-done by innocent selector, demonises the Police and Fitzpatrick, promotes the Republic myth and leaves out much that’s unpalatable. If Holmes watched it critically, he should have known this, so one is left to wonder how much Holmes really knows and understands about the Kelly story.  
Secondly, Holmes has enlisted as co-screenwriters two well known dedicated Kelly symapthisers. One calls himself a Kelly historian and researcher but he is misusing the word historian. He is a person who has openly expressed contempt and disrespect for science and scientists, and for actual research by actual historians , and on the Kelly country Facebook video posts makes a number of elementary blunders, and exposes his commitment to the pure form of the Kelly myth. Ask these Kelly sympathisers what their opinions are  of real Kelly historians and researchers  like McDermott, MacFarlane, Morrissey, Dawson and even myself – whenever Jager mentioned these people on the Ned Kelly Forum it was only to dismiss and ridicule them. Ask Jager what he thinks of the work of scientists : Jager rudely dismissed the work of the scientists who identified Ned Kellys bones, claiming on the Ned Kelly Forum (which he eventually destroyed) that the majority of the research findings claimed by the scientists  ‘were taken from Kelly researchers” andas it was required by law that the remains were to be identified at the VIFM, it hardly makes any of the contributors to the book “experts”, when in all fact they are just doing their job and trying to profit from Ned’s story.”  From the Videos he posted on Facebook recently its clear Jager also doesn’t accept the findings of the scientists at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) who showed that a piece of metal on display at the Kelly Vault is not the offcut from Joe Byrnes armour that its finder claims –  Jager repeated the false claim that it is. On another of those videoes he  described Glenrowan as the place where Ned Kelly planned to start a civil war, an uprising to establish the Republic of North East Victoria, the centrepiece of Kelly mythology and a completely unhistorical fantasy. He proclaimed on the Ned Kelly Forum that a piece of Kellys armour seen in a photo taken in the 50’s had disappeared and he was on a mission to find it – in fact nothing was missing. Jagers claimed ‘back lappet’ was actually just the shoulder piece hanging in the wrong place. He hadn’t noticed it was missing from the shoulder in the photo! He has also publicly claimed to know “without a doubt” where Ned Kellys skull is. The reality is Jager is not a historian, and he has publicly expressed an attitude of  disrespect for real scholarship and for scientists, and appears to have no understanding of the way science works, appears to have no idea of the necessity for a real historian and researcher to be objective, and he wont hesitate to dismiss Police and Court reports as cover-ups and newspaper  stories as corrupt, or the opinion of actual experts when they contradict his preconceived Kelly stories. This behaviour might be understandable from an ignorant Kelly sympathiser but from a person who claims to be a Kelly historian and researcher? If Holmes works with someone like Jager, to keep him happy he  will either have to significantly compromise on his commitment to accuracy and being true to the historical record, or else get rid of the sympathisers. Bringing them on board as co-screenwriters may well be a decision he comes to regret.
Thirdly, Holmes has fallen for the ‘false dichotomy’ argument used by climate-change deniers, creationists and the Kelly writers alike. This is a tactic that’s designed to attract support to their cause by making their weak and unsupportable arguments appear more credible than they really are, by placing them alongside the scientific case and claiming they are equivalent. Then, as Holmes wrote in a response on the True Story Facebook page ‘let the audience decide what they think of Ned Kelly once all is laid out on the table’. In the creationist and climate change debates bad science, discredited argument and false facts are presented as having equivalent weight to the overwhelming consensus of scientific evidence – a false dichotomy that an ordinary non-scientist often doesn’t recognise. What this does is create an impression that in the end the argument is so finely balanced that either opinion can be supported. Kelly writers have been doing this for decades, and it appears Holmes has fallen for it. In fact the arguments based on facts and the evidence are overwhelmingly unsupportive of the Kelly myths. The curious reality in the Kelly world is the dogged refusal of sympathisers to accept the arguments based on facts and evidence. Maybe Holmes movie will help them to see the truth.
Its interesting that Holmes claims that in the Legend of Ben Hall he put out the facts and let the viewers decide. He declared that his goal  in the Kelly  movie “as a storyteller is to HUMANISE everyone within the story, to look at it from every perspective and to help the audience understand WHY this story happened, not to force the audience into a pre-determined conclusion.”  (His caps). This is a commendable goal but these comments suggest to me that Holmes believes he can remove himself and his own subjectivity from the process and produce a movie that’s effectively untouched by human hands. Either that or he is pretending that he can, as part of a tactic designed to make what he eventually produces seem more credible.  I don’t believe a story can EVER be told from “every perspective” , or that a movie can be insulated against the makers own persepctives and opinions and prejudices. In fact despite these expressions of intent, in The Legend of Ben Hall Holmes didn’t just present the facts  for the viewer to weigh up, or present ‘every perspective’ on the story. He didn’t present two types of Ben Hall but he made the case for the sort of conflicted person he considered Ben Hall to be, and portrayed him in that way, and I think he did it brilliantly.  What the viewer had to decide was how credible was Holmes portrayal. This is what he should aim to do in the Kelly movie as well, and not kid himself that he is going to produce a movie that just presents the facts, that tells the story from every perspective so the audience can make up its own mind. What he WILL do for certain, no matter what he says or even thinks he is doing as he did with Ben Hall, is make a movie from a certain perspective, and the audience will make its mind up on how well he does it.

When it comes to telling the story of Ned Kelly however, Holmes has taken on a much more complex task, because the true story of Ned Kelly is buried under an almost impenetrable layer of legends and stories and oral history and myth that has almost completely hidden the person at the centre of it all. If Jager and Phelan have their way, the truth about  Ned Kelly will not come out. I’m expecting a rehash of the unhistorical Kelly myths that glorify a police murderer and liar, not a Kelly story that has credibility other than as entertainment, and damage to Holmes good reputation as someone committed to writing true history.

This is my challenge to you Matthew Holmes : dump the tired old Kelly mythology, dump the Kelly fanciers who are trying to pull the wool over your eyes, dump the idea that The Last Outlaw was in any way accurate and historical, read MacFarlanes book and Morrisseys book and Dawsons writing and Grantlee Kiezas book and have the courage of your instinct to produce the true story, the definitive story genuinely based on facts and evidence. It will still be an absorbing and exciting movie, and you’re the person with the genius to make it.
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24 Replies to “A Kelly Movie based solely on the facts and the evidence….”

  1. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Flipping ahead to page 159 in McQuilton’s commentary, we are told that ”the idea of a Kelly republic, initially dismissed in the 1960s, came into its own in the 1980s when Kelly was interpreted as a radical nationalist republican”. This claim is the most amateur piece of idiotic gibberish in Australian history. In outline, there was a humorous item in the “Bulletin” in 1900, quoted by Doug Morrissey in his “Lawless Life” p. 150, that said Ned had aspired to head for Benalla after Glenrowan, hold up banks, and proclaim NE Victoria a republic with Benalla as capital and himself as president. This tale resurfaced and was widely circulated in 1941. When Kelly was captured in 1880, there was an item in several NSW papers only, that said that in his possession were a number of letters “implicating persons in good positions” and naming a member of Parliament. Logically these would be similar or identical to the Cameron letter or its close cousin, the Jerilderie letter. Max Brown combined these two references to manufacture the “legend” of a Kelly republic that is mentioned in the preface to his 1948 “Australian Son”. That is where it comes from. Ian Jones seized upon this and invented the rest of the story to go with it, including his magnificently wrong-headed misreading of the “past, present and future” references in the Jerilderie letter. I am in the process of documenting this and the rest of the development “republic” myth, but that is the core of it. Just invented history for numpties.

  2. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Well, Dee, you have raised a bucketful of issues that all really do need to be considered and addressed in any retelling of the Kelly story. I got Brendan Pearse and John McQullton’s “The Kelly Country: A Photographic Journey” (2001) from the library yesterday, and although only a third through it, it is interesting to see how much knowledge has changed since 2001. Unfortunately the book does not contain any historical source references, or indeed any references to Kelly scholarship, so it is more of a long opinion piece than a history book, but some interesting things have emerged already.

    Page 33, at the age of 5 Dan Kelly had already appeared in the Police Gazette as a suspect for a stolen horse (does anyone have the reference for this?), and charges against the Quinns and the Lloyds rose from 16 between 1856 and 1864, to 27 between 1865 and 1878. Page 37, Mrs Kelly’s homestead was where men planning a new outbreak in 1881 met; page 14, the Ned refused to betray Happy Power to the police; but the Babington letter proved Ned did shop Power; and tat when Gould asked Ned to deliver a parcel to the McCormacks, “little did he know that the parcel contained calves testicles”, a totally false statement as shown by the court testimony. Page 44, when Ned was fined 1 shilling or four hours gaol for drunk and disorderly, “it was a typical fine for such a charge”; that Fitzpatrick was “briefly Kate Kelly’s suitor” (total rubbish); that Fitzpatrick had “demerit marks o his record sheet” by April 1878, again total rubbish that show McQuilton never examined it; and that the events of the Fitzpatrick incident “remain clouded”, which comes from never doing any analysis of the source evidence which shows Fitzpatrick’s testimony can be mostly corroborated. I am guessing much else will be in need or renovation in the rest of the book, but it shows some of the long-standing furphies with which a new history has to deal.

  3. Phil Nurgen says: Reply

    For your movie – how the Kellys betray their mates
    1. Ned betrays Harry Power to police
    2. His uncle leads police to Power’s hiding place
    3. Ned leaves mate Bill Skillion to rot in gaol after Byrne’s death
    4. Ned carelessly shoots innocent quarryman George Metcalf at Glenrowan
    5. Joe Byrne shoots lifelong mate Aaron Sherritt with Dan Kelly as accomplice
    6. Mrs Kelly lays police complaint against relative

  4. Ashleigh Broad says: Reply

    I hope you send Mathew Holmes a link to this blog asap, Dee!

  5. Joy Potter says: Reply


    He is today's acknowledged Stringybark Creek specialist and expert about the site of the Police murders. Ask John Doyle and Prof Tim Flannery for starters. There are scores, hundreds of others.

    If I had a dollar for every minute Bill and Carla have spent there, I'd be a tremendously, very rich man like Clive Palmer or Malcolm Turnbull!

    Without him, and your list of experts – including you – Holmes won't have an acceptable movie.

    Neither will I help crowdfund the Kelly nuts now employed as screenwriters for the movie.

  6. Mark Koleos says: Reply

    I think Steve was going to play Joe Byrne in a tv doco or maybe it at was the (now non-existent) Kelly Weekend at Beechworth. Maybe, he can now be Ned in a real movie. He is an unremarkable guitar-strummer and Kelly song-smith. Maybe he could do the film score.

    I think it is fair to say that Steve has contributed little or nothing to the Kelly story. No publications, nothing…

  7. I wonder what happened to the imminent Foxtal series of bushranger docos that would tell all? That team hit the pot holes and roadblocks you foresee for Mathew Holmes and seemed to be having a bob-each-way on most of them.

    After your glowing blog about Holmes's Ben Hall movie, it is a shock and major disappointment to see who he has now chosen as "screen writers" for Ned Kelly. Screen writing is a distinct, rare skill. It generally requires, among other things, the ability to direct actors and action, nuances in the story-line and to suggest film shooting strategies. I very much doubt those two individuals possess any of those skills or fundamental understanding of the Kelly story.

    Stuart I have “The Kelly Country: A Photographic Journey” (2001) but found it boring and never read it closely. Thank you for pointing out what I missed.

    Phil Nurgen – enjoyed your bucket list. Spot on!

  8. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    If I had a spare couple of grand I would love to contribute to the crowd funding without any expectation of having script input, simply because I thought the Ben Hall movie was brilliant cinema and because I have been very interested in indie movie making for many years. Unfortunately I am skint with commitments, but might consider volunteering for some sound boom operation, which I did in someone else's film. Working backstage/ behind the scenes is always good fun. Still, I am very interested to see what happens with regard to the polarised Kelly story/plot. I think that false hero/ villain/ heroic villain or villainous hero dichotomy that has been pedalled for several decades is weak and superficial, and depends entirely on being willing to accept the Kelly version/s of events as being as plausible as the authorities, which given two years of evidence including massive new reportage and the Royal Commission minutes, it simply isn't. Kelly gave a self-justifying thief's tale which was given credence where none was warranted in the construction of social myth, initially by Kenneally, then by others including Clune and Brown, who laid the foundations for Jones' unlikely defence of a murderous and clinically analysed psychopath. In his "Kelly Country" book (2001), McQuilton notes on p. 87 that "On 1 November the four men were declared outlaws. Peter Lalor, the rebel leader at Eureka, spoke for the motion during the perfunctory debate in the Victorian Parliament". So various attempts that can be found online to link a 'spirit of Eureka' with anything to do wit the Kelly gang are just plain stupid.

  9. I know you don't have anything to do with Facebook Stuart but I have a Page there to raise awareness of the Blog, so whenever I put up a new post on the Blog I make a reference and a link to it on the Facebook page. In the link to this latest Post I expressed my view that Matthew Holmes is at a cross roads, because he has the ability and a golden opportunity to break new ground and tell the 21st century understanding of the Kelly story, or else turn back to the myths and just redo the Last Outlaw, ignoring everything thats happened since 1980.

    Actually the entire Kelly community is at that same crossroads – a place that has been reached only because of the internet. You and the other 21st century authors have been able to do something that wasn't really possible until recently and that was to get access to all the original documents and forensically review the Kelly story – and discover as you're pointing out yet again above, how the earlier Kelly stories were just so often completely wrong.

    Its pretty obvious much of the 'old guard' of die-hard Kelly Myth believers aren't ever going to change their minds, and they're attacking you and me and everyone else who doesn't agree with them with whatever they can to try to make us go away. However they are already being left behind as indicated by such things as the demise of their websites, the Beechworth NK weekend and Kelly descendants attempts to make something happen.

    So, if Matthew Holmes drops the ball on this one, he will have missed a chance to break new ground, and no doubt in another decade someone else will do it.

  10. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Dee, the reason I don't like facebook is that it just adds another layer of complexity to life. Anyone who has a business on facebook won't get any sales from me; it's for people under 30. I'm not going to waste time logging in to things and trying to get facebook friends. I have real ones, that's fine. Even going to this blog to discuss things is pushing it sometimes, and I don't bother with any other blogs at all. I am doing a very small number of Kelly topics which is about half way through. If people don't like some of the facts I've unearthed and the conclusions they lead to, that's fine, there's a whole big internet and hundreds of newspapers and journals out there, and they can go and publish their own stuff wherever they like. All I've done is some relatively basic research into obviously stupid historical claims, and shown them up as nonsense. Yes, it's time consuming, and needs focus and patience, but what's remarkable is that no-one has bothered to do the same sort of investigations years ago. How can so much garbage be fostered and recycled for so long? The Fitzpatrick stuff was crying out for correction at least 40 years before I looked at it. The same with the other things; it's hard to believe paid university academics and time-rich historians have spent so much time getting things so wrong. Clever country?

  11. Jim Ledbury says: Reply

    Like Stuart, I too can't spare cash to help the Holmes Ned Kelly movie – especially if Jager (with Trent looking over his shoulder) is even remotely involved.

    If Matthew Holmes associates with lamebrains like them, his movie is doomed before it even begins.

    Don't say you weren't warned Matt! You are compromised already.

  12. Dave Blake says: Reply

    So far Matthew Holmes is barking up the wrong tree.

    He had better get in touch with Dee's list of modern experts pronto.

  13. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    I think Matt Holmes will do whatever he wants, using the people he’s chosen as advisors, so all I and anyone else can do is put their point of view up and out there, leave him to it and see what happens. He is the one who will make head or tale of whatever his advisors say, together with his own research. I think based on what he did with Ben Hall film, now that I have watched the historian's commentary in the DVD 'Extras', he will do a fair minded job of it. In Dee's quote above where Holmes says he will humanise the characters as part of the storytelling, that's what you have to do in a film if you want people to not walk out part way; but humanising also includes their faults and failings, weaknesses, irrationality (as we saw in his presentation of Gilbert); Ned's vaingloriousness noted in the papers of his day, etc. Ned Kelly was clearly a charismatic man; that's how he managed to stay on the run for 2 years and act the wronged man to gain sympathy even from some of his victims and prisoners at various events. So he will be a complex character; but so was Charles Manson with his followers…

  14. I agree he will do whatever he wants, and thats absolutely how it should be. Its very encouraging that he has at least expressed an intention to make it historically accurate, and not base it on opinion but evidence, but on the other hand he appears to think The Last Outlaw was historically accurate, AND he has fallen in with a couple of die-hard Kelly fanatics, so I cant help thinking , on the basis of those two points, that what he will make will be The Last Outlaw 2019 Model. To add credibility to his version it seems he is going to use the same tactic that Ian Jones did in 1980, stating at the start of each episode that "All events..are drawn directly from fact" – which was technically true but misleading, because many inconvenient 'facts' were ignored, and creative license was let loose on the facts to enable them to create a myth.

    I think its important that Holmes not be allowed to pretend as Peter Fitzsimons did that he had never heard of Ian MacFarlanes book, or of the subsequent insights and scholarship such as yours Stuart, so that if he DOES ignore them he can be asked to account for himself in the movie reviews. If he is GENUINELY interested in telling the true story, then he MUST take all the modern authors findings and insights into account. He's not obliged to take any notice of them of course, and he has the talent to produce a fantastic updated version of The Last Outlaw but if he does I believe it would be misleading and dishonest to claim its the story based only on the facts and the evidence.

  15. I can't bloody well post here anymore Dee. It's too hard. This recent post is getting personal and nasty. Peoples feelings are getting hurt. Let's wait and see before we shit in any more nests hey?

  16. Sorry you feel like that Mark. I guess I'll never be able to please all the people all the time – and though some might think I cant please any of the people any of the time, someone must like what I write because yesterday there were nearly 800 views of my Post about the Ned Kelly movie.

  17. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Mark, I'm not sure which bits of commentary you are referring to, but I am 100% supportive of Matt Holmes going entirely his own way with his film, and certainly did not intend to be read as critical of any of his advisors, who I also support 100% to have their own views of the Kelly story. (Just in case any of that was about my comments here.) I know Dee has criticised Steve J and another, but I have always spoken of him positively as an actor and several years ago found him to be an interesting character who I have never said anything against anywhere. I am not getting into any blog wars about the plans or intentions about any of the people involved in the upcoming movie and wish them every success with it. I hope my comments didn't come out any other way. My view that the director will do whatever he wants is 100% positive towards him doing that, and was in no way critical of him or any of his historical advisors, just to be clear.

  18. In this context I like to say barking up the wrong stump!

  19. Ian Bequin says: Reply

    Stuart, I disagree Charles Manson was a complex character. I have an lp record which has some of his songs – which are woeful idiocy. He was a small-time crook with the charisma to attract trailerpark trash women to lure more male criminals. His Helter-Skelter plan to ignite interracial war was ludicrous.

    Ned's sexuality is unknown and not part of the legend. He did not contemplate interracial war, except perhaps against the Aboriginal trackers. Ned's plan for a NE Victoria Republic has been shown to be relatively recent, manufactured nonsense.

    I can't see any connection whatever between Charles Manson and Ned.

    Ned had a little more going for him than Manson who was an ultra nasty California sewer rat.

  20. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Ian, you're right, my comment was not thought out at all. Maybe I should engage brain before commenting… I am however interested in any references to the recency of the NE Republic theory. John McQuilton (in Kelson & McQuilton, "Kelly Country" 2001) p. 133, dates it to Ian Jones' 1967 Wangaratta seminar, and says Jones offered a "more likely explanation" for the last stand based on "oral historical evidence". This is part of a "Glenrowan Strategy" to be triggered by Sherritt's murder(p. 128). Then p. 134, "If the plan made for Glenrowan had worked, the authorities would have been forced to bring in the military, and the would have found a small guerrilla army, familiar with the region's geography, waiting for them". Jones' idea will be contested as long as people write about Kelly". So there is nothing new about people contesting the idea. The onus falls on its proponents of this part of it to provide concrete evidence of any elements of a small guerrilla army adequately equipped with weaponry to take on the military. I have not found any so far, but who knows what may turn up.

  21. Anonymous says: Reply

    Jim Ledbury, I verily believe that Trent has nothing to do with Steve Jäger or the Ned Kelly world anymore. From what I've been told is that he got into it with good intentions and got burnt in a very bad way, so now has nothing more to do with it.

  22. Peter Newman says: Reply

    Matthew Holmes’ plan to make the second of his planned series of films about Australian Outlaws received some publicity in today’s “The Age” (Sydney Morning Herald) newspaper. The article is headed “Wanted: $2.5m for ‘definitive’ Ned Kelly film”. There is no use providing a hyperlink because digital access to these papers is by subscription. I will extract quotes from the article instead.

    Like Matthew’s excellent first film “The Legend of Ben Hall”, the proposed Kelly film is also to be reliant on crowd funding. $2.5m needs to be raised by this means as a prerequisite to receiving Government funding that will make the film possible. If the $2.5m is not raised, then all funds will be returned.

    Having viewed the Ben Hall movie followed by Matthew’s Director’s commentary and the Historian’s commentary (all on the same DVD), I have great confidence that Matthew will indeed make the definitive Kelly movie. This is reinforced by the following quotes in today’s newspaper article:

    "We feel the Ned Kelly story has never been truly told historically accurately in the cinema. If you look back at all the previous incarnations of Ned Kelly movies, none of them have been faithful to the history”.

    "We still believe there's this amazing story that people don't know because so much of the true story has been buried in a lot of false stuff."

    "I wouldn't want to criticise another filmmaker's work. On their own, they're not bad films but looking at them from an historical perspective, that's where I feel these films fall down. They leave out a lot of elements or they combine things or they simplify things …We want to take a much more complex look at the history and look at the bad side of Ned Kelly as much as the good, and we want to look at the good side of the police as much as the bad. The previous versions have looked at the story in far too simplistic terms."

    "Australia has got a very colourful past of both terrible and great things”, he says. "These are just fantastic human stories."

    Well, I reckon Matthew Holmes “gets it”. He is not the type to be misled by the pro-Kelly lobby. He (posting as Anonymous) has already thanked you Dee for your comments about his Ben Hall movie, so he is obviously aware of your website and the material that has been posted. Given the effort he went to ensure historical accuracy in the Ben Hall movie, I can’t imagine he will stray from this formula in his Kelly movie. So I really hope he makes this movie, and look forward to making a small financial contribution towards its making. As Matthew says, these (Australian bushranging stories) are amazing stories in their own right. They don’t need embellishment. It will be great to see an accurate portrayal of the true story of the Kelly Gang after that disappointing Heath Ledger dud.

  23. Thanks Peter, I saw that article in the SMH and noticed he left out Phelan and Jager from the publicity shot! Jager has clearly been reined in and doesn't comment anywhere and has stopped attacking me on Facebook.

    However its very clear now that this funding attempt is going to fail quite substantially, and as the publicity says its all or nothing that could be the end of it. From my perspective its been enlightening – encouraging even – to see exactly how many Kelly supporters are prepared to put their money where their mouths are – and its a pitifully tiny number., far fewer than even I had expected. This is the first time that there has been any indication of the real numbers involved in the pro-Kelly mob and now we know they have a voice which is vastly in excess of their size.

    I think this fact needs to be publicised.

    Ned Kelly is nowhere near as popular as the fanatics would have us believe.

  24. Brian Tate says: Reply

    You may well be right about the waning popularity of Ned Dee. I noticed recently in a letter to one of the newspapers about Corby the writer wondered about the popularity of crims in Australia and suggested it was the 'Ned kelly syndrome'. Maybe it's now a recognised affliction?

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