Ned Kelly: Interview
Review by Clint Morris
Click here for the Ned Kelly movie
Interview with Ned Kelly director, Gregor Jordan
at Buffalo Soldiers launch
I think a lot of Australians dont know
the detail of this story, explains Gregor Jordan, director
of the new Australian epic Ned Kelly.
If you grew up in Victoria you learnt about it at
school, but I grew up in New South Wales and didnt know
a lot about the details of the story and the theme. And I
mean theres so many different interpretations that tell
Jordans film combines fact with faction, but the director
is quick to point out that the majority of it is completely
true. Australians will think what theyre
seeing is fictional but the most of the movie is fact.
Bits that are fictionalised are done for good reason.
There is a love story involving Ned Kelly and Naomi Watts
character, Julia Cook. People are going to think its
a Hollywood romance just thrown in there, but the thing is
were trying to tell a story about Ned Kelly, so we wanted
to show the different sides to the man, but also a different
side to the society.
Ned was also a very charming, charismatic guy and there
was a rumour that he liked married women, explains Jordan.
In the Jerilderie letter there was mention of a woman
he wanted to kiss, Julia. I went: whos Julia?. I mean
weve taken some artistic licence, but its not
as if we just took gratuitous liberties with historical fact.
Were just trying to fill in the gaps.
There are moments when people are going to say 'well
thats just not true', but for instance, its apparently
true that Joe Byrne got dressed up in a dress to go and shoot
his best friend, Aaron Sherritt. And it was a documented fact
that Steve Hart ran into an old school friend while robbing
the bank in Euroa. Theres these things that seem like
theyre bullshit, but theyre actually true.
Jordan says it was hard trying to condense 25 years of a
mans life into a 2-hour movie. The trick was how
to condense it so it doesnt feel like fragmented pieces,
but to have it flow. This involved defining events, defining
characters, and trying to smooth it all out. [Ironically]
Wed keep going back to what happened historically at
the end of the day, rather than making anything up though.
At the end of the day that was more interesting.
With backing from a major US Studio, was there any pressure
on Jordan to make Ned Kelly more Hollywood? When
a company puts a ton of money into a film they want to get
their money back and based on experiences, they go put
this in, put that in, take that out, but historys
shown us that that plus that plus that does not always equal
x amount of box office, says Jordan.
At the end of the day you make compromises, they make
compromises and hopefully come out with something everybodys
We tried to avoid being a Western. The American studio
read the script and said Guys on horses with Guns
equals Western, but I think the politics of Australia
were vastly different to the Colonial era of America.
This is not going to look like a Western, I concluded.
Sure, itll fit in that genre basket, but itll
still be uniquely Australian.
One financial decision involved filming the movie in the
You Yangs, about 45 minutes outside of Melbourne, rather
than in the actual locations that Ned Kelly lived and breathed.
Its cheaper if you dont go way out, so you
can have the cast housed in Melbourne, says Jordan.
And have you seen Glenrowan lately? Theres a
30 foot statue of Ned Kelly in the main street and Euroa has
a K-Mart and a McDonalds, he laughs. So we built
our own Glenrowan and Euroa.
Whilst many of the cast were Australian, it was decided that
casting some purebred Irishmen would be beneficial to the
film. If we cast all Aussies doing accents it couldve
drifted off and got a bit dodgy, says Jordan, adding
that Ledger, and the rest of the Australian cast, were required
to train with a dialect coach to get their accents down pat.
Next up for Jordan is the film Buffalo Soldiers, which
has been awaiting a release for over twelve months. The
subject matter is so delicate, its a movie a bit like
M.A.S.H thats not directly derogatory of the US military
but it shows a side to it.
After September 11 it would have just been the wrong
time to release it. Everyone was so traumatized they didnt
want to see anything about their over-glorified military,
But now, in turn of recent events, the films
become even more topical than when we first made it. We dont
know how its going to go, but I hope itll work
the same way M.A.S.H did in the Vietnam War and provoke a
bit of thought and create a bit of controversy.
And, although he hasnt decided on a new project yet,
Jordan says its a great time to be working in the Australian
Film Industry, with such big stars quite willing to come to
their native Australia to make movies. Its such
an exciting time for the Australian film industry, he
And Ned [Kelly] is sort of a test case for bigger Australian
films. Its not just Australia as a backlot for big Hollywood
blockbusters, but Australian movies with Australian casts
telling Australian stories to an international marketplace.
Ned Kelly Commences in Cinemas Thursday March 27th.
Click here for the Ned Kelly movie
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