Well, there are many aspects of Australian life I just don’t get, and one of those is the veneration of Ned Kelly. But then it does have the distinction of being the subject of the first feature film ever made. Today we look at a movie that explores the life of Ned Kelly, the true story of the bushranger … well maybe not the whole truth …or even a little bit of it.
So to set the scene, in 1867 Australia, and a young Ned Kelly (Orlando Schwerdt) is trying to find his place in a rural world with no education and a mother Ellen (Essie Davis) with an ‘interesting’ view of raising children. She sells the boy to Harry Power (Russell Crowe) a bushranger who introduces the boy to the violent world, including shooting Sergeant O’Neill (Charlie Hunnam) a member of the constabulary. After spending time in jail and away from his family Ned (George MacKay) returns home and gets brought back into the world he once escaped.
Sometimes you go into to see a film and you have no idea that what you are about to watch has been almost tailored just for you. In this case, we have a war film, about just two characters, presented as if it was all filmed in one take. If I was explaining to you what would be the perfect film for me this would not be far off. I bring this up to put some context down before we dive into the world of explosions, gun shots, and every trench under the sun.
So to set the scene, we are in the heights of World War One on the front lines in France, with Germany and their allies on one side and Brittan and their allies on the other. This is trench warfare and every centimetre of territory has been won through a considerable loss of life. It is here where one day Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is roused from his sleep and asked to go on a mission with Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) by General Erinmore (Colin Firth). For you see, overnight the German forces have retreated and many commanders believe that they have them on the run. However, it is actually a ruse, the Germans have just retreated to a more fortified line and they are leading those chasing them into a trap. The boy’s mission is to cross into no-man’s land, travel through enemy controlled territory so they can make it to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) in time to call off the attack and save 1600 lives. Now due to the nature of the film and that it has a staggered release date across the world, I am going to be a bit more cautious with my examples so as to not spoil anything.