Macbeth’s Justin Kurzel Charting The True History Of The Kelly Gang


With his gritty, grim adaptation of the Bard’s classic Macbeth earning rapturous praise in the build-up to its anticipated fall bow, director Justin Kurzel is on the cusp of a major breakthrough. He’ll follow up that award-tipped drama with a blockbuster, reteaming with stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard for Assassin’s Creed, and the helmer is also plotting thriller Haven. Today, Kurzel is reported to be gearing up for yet another project – this time a Western of sorts about a legendary outlaw.

A story from IF reveals that Kurzel is signing on to direct an adaptation of Peter Carey’s Booker Prize winning novel The True History Of The Kelly Gang, about Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. He’s teaming up with his Snowtown Murders scribe for the pic, which is just the latest in a string of movies centering on the near-mythic historical figure (Heath Ledger and Mick Jagger both played him in previous films).

Here’s the synopsis for Carey’s novel:

“I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false.”

In True History of the Kelly Gang, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semiliterate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.

Kelly is a fascinating figure from history, and Kurzel’s handling of Macbeth proves that he knows how to make movies about highly complex and deeply compromised individuals without sacrificing believability or dramatic stakes. As such, seeing how he explores someone who existed off the page but left a considerable legend behind should be a real treat.

Source: The Playlist