Australian Council on Children and the Media

Ned Kelly

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Short takes

Not recommended for children under 15 (Viol. Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ned Kelly
  • a review of Ned Kelly completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 April 2003.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Due to the high level of violence in this film it is not recommended for children under 15.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Ned Kelly
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Medium Level Violence, Adult themes
Length 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The movie starts with a young Ned Kelly who jumps into a lake to save a drowning boy. It then moves on to the year 1871 when Ned is now a young man. He is part of a large Catholic family whose father Red is dead, leaving the Mother to bring them all up in quite impoverished conditions. Ned takes up fighting to earn some money. One night in the pub, a policeman called Fitzpatrick tries to take advantage of Ned’s sister. He is attacked and pushed off by Ned’s brother Dan and friends. Ned is not actually there when this happens, because he is with a married woman but Fitzpatrick accuses Ned of shooting him. The married woman won’t give him an alibi so Ned takes off to the bush with his brother Dan and his friends Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, forming the Kelly gang.

They become outlaws and progress from robbing banks and holding up coaches to murder. Ned knows he was unjustly accused of shooting Fitzpatrick and puts himself up as a defender of the people against the corrupt Victorian police. Many people admire him but Ned becomes more corrupt by shooting many policemen. A new tough police chief is brought in from South Africa to help track him down culminating in the final shoot out in Glen Rowan.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is much violent material in this film against people and animals. It is not glamorised or made to appear successful but is performed by the Kelly gang who are often thought of as heroes. The violence includes the following scenes:

  • Ned rides into town and is accused of stealing a horse. A policeman shoots at him and a bloody fight follows. Ned is arrested and beaten by police.
  • A woman asks Ned to help her with her horse by holding his “thingy” (the horse’s penis) while she pokes a rod into it because its bladder is blocked. We see the horse running around with his penis hanging down and the rod poking out.
  • A man shoots a horse dead because he is ‘bad’ and won’t let Ned break him in.
  • A man shoots at rosellas in a tree—we see the feathers flying.
  • The Kelly gang hold up two police. One aims to shoot and Ned shoots first killing him and we see where the bullet has gone into the eye.
  • Two more police arrive and there is another gun battle. One is mortally wounded but not dead—he is writhing in agony, coughing up blood and unable to breathe. Ned shoots him again to put him out of misery. Blood is everywhere, including all over Ned’s hands.
  • Police set fire to the bush to smoke Kelly gang out; they have to ride through the flames and smoke. A dead wild pig is shown and a vulture eating something dead.
  • The Kelly gang are starving so Ned cuts a horse’s throat for them to eat. They all eat the horse raw and are covered in blood on their hands and mouths.
  • One of Ned’s friends is bribed by police to betray them, so Joe shoots him dead.
  • The final gun battle is very violent. The following scenes are from that battle:
  • The Kelly gang have got a circus troop inside the hotel and they let them go out the front door with their hands up but they are shot at by police.
  • The Kelly gang venture outside in their metal suits and police open fire but can’t kill them. The Kelly gang return fire, firing two guns each at the police killing many and wounding the police chief. They retreat back inside hotel.
  • A circus monkey is shot.
  • Many of the circus people are shot and in much pain. There is blood everywhere.
  • Ned goes out again shooting more people.
  • The circus people try to leave by back door and are shot at again.
  • Joe is shot dead.
  • A circus lion is dead in the cage.
  • Steve Hart and Dan Kelly are still inside the pub crying. Steve shoots himself in the head then Dan does.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

This film is not suitable for children in this age group – there is much realistic violence mentioned above that would terrify children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Again children in this age group would find the violence much too scary.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group would find the violence much too scary.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children under 15 would find the violence very realistic and horrifying.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in this film including:

  • Ned passionately kissing a woman and they start to undress; the rest is presumed.
  • Joe is guarding the banker’s wife while he is being robbed; they have sex, again not actually shown.
  • The police burst in on a man and woman in bed in the nude.

Use of substances

There is a fair amount of drinking in bars.

Coarse language

There is frequent use of coarse language including the following words:

  • Christ
  • Jesus Christ
  • arse
  • bastard
  • bloody.

In a nutshell

The take home message in this movie is that crime certainly doesn’t pay. There are not many values parents would wish to encourage in this movie.

Values parents may to discourage include:

  • violence as a way to solve problems
  • lying
  • stealing
  • murder and revenge
  • treachery.

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