The Story of the Kelly Gang

The Story of the Kelly Gang (Charles Tait, 1906) J & N Tait, Johnson & Gibson; Frank Mills, Elizabeth Tait, John Tait, Norman Campbell, Will Coyne; length c. 4000 ft.

The world's first feature film, in the sense that it ran for more than an hour; seventeen minutes of the film have been restored and released by the National Film and Sound Archive.

The longest narrative film then seen in Australia, and quite possibly in the world, opened on 26 December 1906 at the Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne. ... In the hour or more that it lasted on the screen, The Story Of The Kelly Gang presented the highlights from the bushranging career of the Kelly brothers. Using no intertitles, it was entirely dependent on an on-stage lecturer, or often a group of actors, to provide continuity and to identify the characters. Later films on the Kellys took a defensive stand against the threat of censorship by adopting a stridently moralistic tone, offering the story as a tribute to the police and as an example of the dangers of anti-social behaviour, but the 1906 film openly presented the Kellys as gallant heroes, with the police as the enemy, and no attempt was made to apologise for the cheerful celebration of outlawry. Pike & Cooper: 5, 6.

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