‘Glenrowan’: A New Ned Kelly Movie Promises a Gritty New Take on the Legend

© Two Tone Pictures

There’s a new Ned Kelly movie in the works; one  that plans to look at the man often described as Australia’s Robin Hood from a different angle.

Aussie filmmaker Matthew Holmes is following up his 2016 bushranger pic The Legend of Ben Hall with Glenrowan, a film that will depict the infamous final siege in Victoria that brought down the outlaw. Glenrowan will be set over a 42-hour period, following the historical figure on his relentless quest for vengeance that spirals into a nightmare of treachery and trauma. Holmes promises an intense cinematic experience in the tradition of Dog Day Afternoon and Assault on Precinct 13.

The in-the-works film, which Holmes has penned with Aidan Phelan and historian consultant Steve Jager, is being called a “no-holds-barred, gut-wrenching thriller,” with a focus on offering audiences a different take on the mythologies and preconceptions that often surround Kelly.

Callan McAuliffe (left) & Matthew Holmes (right) on the set of ‘The Legend of Ben Hall’ | Image provided

In talks to play Ned Kelly is rising Aussie star Callan McAuliffe, who’s had a run playing the character of Alden in The Walking Dead and whose credits include The Great Gatsby, I Am Number Four and Flipped. McAuliffe also had a role in Holmes’ The Legend of Ben Hall. The actor is represented by Paradigm, IMC and Affirmative Entertainment.

“It’s time to see this iconic figure from a fresh perspective,” said Holmes, director and co-writer. “We’re approaching this story of a complex young man without forcing labels onto him such as hero, victim or psychopath. This realistic approach allows Ned to be shown exactly as he was: a person with both strong virtues and deep flaws. It also allows the audience to choose how they feel about him.”

Don’t expect a run-of-the-mill biopic. As Holmes explained: “We wanted to create something different from the standard ‘life story’ biopic. We’re showing things that have never been shown before in a Ned Kelly film. But most of all, we want to give audiences an emotional and action-packed experience that grips them from its opening moments and doesn’t let go until the final frame.”

Writers: Aidan Phelan, Matthew Holmes and Historical Consultant Steve Jager | Image provided

Co-writer Phelan pointed out that the film will also incorporate a look at the way the community was brought in to the siege, which remains the largest hostage situation in Australia. Apart from The Kelly Gang, there were also police and sixty innocent civilians caught up in the ordeal.

“All the themes of Ned’s story can be conveyed by just exploring the Glenrowan incident. As we were writing the script, it became very apparent that this was not just about Ned Kelly – this is also the story of a tiny community suddenly swept up in this monumental standoff between outlaws and the police,” Phelan said.

“The siege is a historical tragedy that affected everyone in that region for decades and still has ramifications for their descendants. Almost 140 years later, we as a society are still questioning who Ned Kelly really was. This is our chance to finally provide some realistic answers.”

The announcement comes in the week that marks the 138th anniversary of Kelly’s capture.

Glenrowa, which is being produced by Fox Studios-based Russell Cunningham and Melbourne-based Jessica Pearce, is eyeing a regional Victoria shoot in early 2019. Private investment and distribution deals are currently being sought. Stay tuned.

‘Glenrowan’ Teaser Poster | © Two Tone Pictures