Ned Kelly (2003)

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Released 13-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Ned Kelly in Popular Culture
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Artist to Feature Comparison
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 105:20
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Gregor Jordan

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Heath Ledger
Orlando Bloom
Geoffrey Rush
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Klaus Badelt

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1
English dts 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Being the story of Australia's most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly has a lot more action and excitement than most Australian period dramas. There have been many films about the Kelly Gang, and this one is undoubtedly the best.

"Such is life".

    Edward Kelly was born in Beveridge, Victoria in 1855. As an 'apprentice' to bushranger Harry Power, by the age of fifteen Ned was already famous, with an 8000 pound sum on his head. While initial charges for assault and armed robbery were dismissed, in 1870 Ned was convicted of assault and obscene language ("sending an indecent letter to a woman"), and was gaoled for three months. The following year Ned was sentenced to three years for "receiving a stolen horse". Released in 1874, Ned worked various manual labour jobs in rural Victoria, but was heavily involved in cattle and horse-stealing. In 1877 Ned was charged with drunkenness and assaulting police, but was only fined. In 1878, Ned's life took a drastic turn. A drunk policeman, Constable Fitzpatrick, attempted to molest Ned's sister at the Kelly farm. Ned's mother hit Fitzpatick with a shovel. It is unclear if Ned was present (Ned's own version of the story differs over the years), but Fitzpatrick claimed that Ned had shot him in the hand. Ned's mother was gaoled for three years, and two other Kelly family members for six years each. Ned and his brother Dan fled to the bush. In the police hunt that followed, Ned, Dan and their friends Joe Byrne and Steve Hart killed three policemen in a shoot-out at Stringybark Creek. As a result, huge rewards (the biggest in the world) were offered for the capture of Ned and the Kelly Gang. Following two bank robberies, the Kelly Gang faced a large number of police at the now famous siege at the Glenrowan Inn. With his gang killed in the ensuing shoot-out, Ned was injured and captured. In 1880, Ned was charged with the murder of one of the policeman at Stringybark Creek, and he was hanged in the Old Melbourne Gaol on 11 November, at the age of 25.

    Over the years, Ned Kelly has proved to be an enduring Australian cultural icon. With his distinctive helmet and armour, Ned is an instantly recognisable image. Consider, for example, the famous series of paintings by Sidney Nolan. Ned has come to represent the plight of all poor Irish immigrants in Victorian Britain and her colonies. He enjoys the image of a young rebel and romantic outlaw. In the years following his death, there have been countless books, poems, plays, and even operas and ballets about Ned and the Kelly Gang. Of course there have also been a number of films, starting with one of the world's first feature films, The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906). Apparently audiences so enthusiastically cheered Ned, and booed the police, that the film was later banned from being screened. While there have been many films over the years, the one probably best remembered by audiences is Ned Kelly (1970), starring Mick Jagger.

    However, I would have to say that of all the Kelly Gang films, this version is the best. With many scenes resembling a Tom Roberts painting, the movie features wonderful cinematography, as well as great costumes, sets, and acting from Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts, and Joel Edgerton. The movie has obviously benefited from great attention to detail. While there are a few 'artistic interpretations', or what some might see as historical flaws, it remains fairly faithful to the known facts. However, one area that could have benefited from more attention was the script. Based on Robert Drewe's novel, Our Sunshine, the story often moves forward uneasily, sometimes skipping over some important elements, yet labouring others. I also found the romantic subplot almost completely pointless.

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Transfer Quality


    Whilst a little grainy at times, this transfer is excellent.

    The transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of the image is wonderful. Consider for example the scene at 33:34 of Ned creeping through the dense bush foliage. There are many, many dark scenes, and the shadow detail is very good, such as at 6:20 when we see Ned slowly emerging from the dark prison into the sunlight.

    This is a very dark movie, and the colour palette is intentionally drab. The DVD accurately reflects the original print, and the skin tones are also accurate.

     Looking at the largest file on the disc, I found an impressive average bit rate of 7.926 megabits per second. I saw no problems with MPEG artefacts.

    While there is occasionally an extremely slight shimmer on a few objects, film-to-video artefacts, such as aliasing, are never a problem.

    Tiny film artefacts appear throughout, but are never distracting. I did notice some very slight edge enhancement, such as at 18:45, but again it was not distracting.

    Only English subtitles are present on this disc, and they are accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 51:06. It is reasonably smooth.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two audio options: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English dts 5.1. While there was not too much difference between the two, I much preferred the dts track for the extra 'punch' it delivered at the bottom end.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on both audio tracks.

    The musical score is credited to Klaus Badelt, and it has a strong Irish flavour. Indeed, it reminded me a little of the score to Titanic. There is also a lot of period music played on period instruments throughout.

    The excellent surround presence and activity makes the viewing experience very immersive. The rears are called upon throughout to help carry the score and provide effects, such as the bush wildlife at 19:21 and the heavy rainstorm at 84:05.

    The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively throughout, for example the thundering horses at 32:17, and the explosion at 85:21.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are not many extras, and I would have really appreciated one of the many decent documentaries that have been made about the Kelly Gang.


    Animated menus with audio.

Ned Kelly in Popular Culture (13:38)

    This is a relatively short look at the pop-culture phenomenon of Ned Kelly. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo surround-encoded audio.

Teaser Trailer (0:57)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo surround-encoded audio.

Theatrical Trailer (2:02)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo surround-encoded audio.

The Real Kelly Gang

    A series of photographic stills.

Artist to Feature Comparison

    A series of storyboard style conceptual sketches, compared with stills from the film.

Poster Campaign

    Stills of four of the posters to market the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As yet, Ned Kelly has not been released on DVD in Region 1. We will update this section in the future, once a proper comparison can be made.


   Ned Kelly is the best of all the Kelly movies, and an enjoyable and absorbing story of one of Australia's enduring cultural icons.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent.

    The extras are decent, but not too exciting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Long time until you can make a comparison! -
Badelt's score - wolfgirv
The best Ned Kelly? - PJ van Es (A bio - hazard) REPLY POSTED
Don't forget it's still just a 2 hour movie -
missing postscript ??? - wolfgirv