THE STORY OF THE KELLY GANG is believed to be the world's first feature length film. Running at between 65 and 70 minutes, it was billed at the time as the longest film ever made. It toured Australia for nine years and was an enormous success.
Today only fragments survive, and it is hard to judge the film's artistic merits. About nine minutes of footage exists - some found on a garbage dump in Melbourne. Some of this footage may be out-takes. The footage is held by ScreenSound Australia, the National Screen and Sound Archive, in Canberra.
The sequences show some enthusiastic acting, although the camera-work is static (like most films of the period). The most remarkable shot is probably when a priest, carrying a wounded man over his shoulder, walks toward and just past the camera, creating a strong sense of drama and movement. The final shoot-out scene is also well filmed - with Ned Kelly moving, and shooting, toward the camera, as troopers flee to the sides.
A remarkable film, of great historical importance, that all film students should see. Up until World War 1, when initially neutral America began to dominate the world of film distribution, Australia had one of the most thriving and innovative film industries in the world.
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