Updated May 4, 2003
|Ned Kelly has been the subject of films since the turn of last century. Nearly all have not let truth get in the way of a good story. We have been keeping track of progress on the latest. Please have your say.|
'Ned Kelly' the movie - fact or fiction?
Love it or hate it, the Ned
Kelly movie has got people talking, mostly about what parts are true,
and which are not. Much of the historically true story, and many of the
main characters were left out, too many to list here, but below is a quick
rundown of some of the main scenes of the movie that have inspired the
question - "did that really happen?"
Clarification of whether it is 'fact or fiction' written underneath in small print.
Fact or fiction?
Ellen did not marry George King until after Ned arrived home from gaol (Ned signed as a witness to their wedding). The baby was Ellen King, and George did not leave Ellen for some years after this, they had two more children together (John and Alice). Ned embarked on his horse stealing operation in partnership with George King.
Julia Cook and her husband are both fictional characters.
We have no evidence that he was.
We do not know what actually happened during this incident, or if Ned was present or not. Fitzpatrick's version is unreliable, and other versions of the incident differ in many details. Ned denied he was even there. In his official report Fitzpatrick accused Mrs Kelly of hitting him with the shovel, and Ned firing a shot at him injuring his wrist.
This scene is quite close to fact. However Lonigan never got the chance to fire his gun at Ned because Ned managed to shoot him first, just as he was about to try. After Ned shot Lonigan he did not die instantly, instead he staggered some distance and cryied out 'Oh Christ I am shot' before he collapsed. The chase with Kennedy was fairly accurate, except in one respect; the movie does not show that Ned actually fired the fatal shot at Kennedy before seeing he was by then unarmed. He was attempting to raise his hand to surrender and not fire, which unfortunately Ned did not realise until too late. It is believed that Ned shooting Kennedy at close range to end his suffering did happen.
In fact, the gang deliberately looted all three bodies and stole the watch and rings, any money, guns and ammunition they could find.
Fiction. However Aaron did marry while the gang were on the run, but to a girl named Ellen Barry (who was indeed a teenager and pregnant by him).
There were a number of senior police involved in the Kelly chase (such as Nicholson, Sadlier, Steele and O'Connor). The police chase, was at no stage, truly effective. Burning of the bush and poisoning water supplies did not occur. Kennedy's watch was not recovered at this point.
The police never beat or imprisoned Aaron to get his assistance. There is truth to a possible deal to attempt to spare Joe. however there is no evidence that Aaron was coerced into the deal.
The Jerilderie letter was a lengthy document, planned and written prior to the robbery. Ned took it to Jerilderie with the intention of having it published.
This set-up did not occur, although it is possible that something similar did. (It took a long time for Joe to believe that Aaron was betraying the gang. They carefully considered and planned Aarons' assassination, making it part of the Glenrowan plan.)
Joe did not wear a dress when he killed Aaron. He did not call out to him, instead he forced Aaron's neighbour, Anton Wicks, to lure Aaron to his door. Joe then shot Aaron twice. Dan was with him - not Ned, (who was in Glenrowan with Steve). The police were hiding in the bedroom.
There is no evidence of this.
In fact Curnow deliberately solicited Ned's trust. He did not escape, but asked if he could take his wife home, assuring Ned that he would not betray them. Ned trusted him at his word and released him.
There was nowhere near this number initially. Later, reinforcements arrived.
The Gang members were standing on, or just in front, of the veranda, the first gun volley was fired as Hare and a small number of fellow policemen arrived. It was then, and not later, that Hare was wounded. Ned was also badly wounded in the foot and arm in the first bout of gunfire. The positions of the police were quite well protected and thus they were not killed and injured as portrayed. A black-tracker was injured, but not severely. Six of the hostages received severe injuries or died. It was accurate that Joe is killed as depicted.
Ned did leave the building during the siege and collapse. There was no lion near the inn. Ned woke in the morning and returned. Ned's famous 'last stand' gunfight against the police did then occur, at the end of which, he was captured. It was some time after that that the building was set alight by police.
Hare had left Glenrowan by that stage due to loss of blood. The Dr (Nicholson) who removed the sash kept it for himself. It was held in his family for many years, but is now on display at the Benalla Costume and folk museum.
That claim is completely true!
Compiled and written by N. Cowie and D. White.