The Story of the Kelly Gang

The Story of the Kelly Gang

The Story of the Kelly Gang is a 1906 Australian bushranger film that traces the exploits of 19th-century bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly and his gang. It was directed by Charles Tait and shot in and around the city of Melbourne. The original cut of this silent film ran for more than an hour with a reel length of about , making it the longest narrative film yet seen in the world. It premiered at Melbourne's Athenaeum Hall on 26 December 1906 and was first shown in the United Kingdom in January 1908. A commercial and critical success, it is regarded as the origin point of the bushranging drama, a genre that dominated the early years of Australian film production. Since its release, many other films have been made about the Kelly legend.


Film historian Ina Bertrand suggests that the tone of The Story of the Kelly Gang is "one of sorrow, depicting Ned Kelly and his gang as the last of the bushrangers." Bertrand identifies several scenes that suggest considerable film making sophistication on the part of the Taits. One is the composition of a scene of police shooting parrots in the bush. The second is the capture of Ned, shot from the viewpoint of the police, as he advances. A copy of the programme booklet has survived, containing 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 entire film may have been like.