The Story of the Kelly Gang (Charles Tait, 1906) is arguably the world’s first dramatic feature film. Dr [Ina] Bertrand and Dr [William D] Routt have meticulously gleaned information from a range of sources – surviving fragments of film, newspaper advertising, program brochures, oral histories, memoirs – to discuss the many claims made about the film’s place in history, and to analyse what we can discern about its content and style. It’s a meticulous work that demystifies mythology and brings alive one of the most exciting and inventive periods in Australian film history. Their work is rich in tantalising insights and is an important counter to American- and Euro-centred histories of early cinema.
– Andrew Pike, Film Historian
This unravelling of the many myths and claims that have surrounded Australia’s first major production is exemplary as a work of cinema scholarship, and an invaluable companion to the newly restored film. Patiently and scrupulously Bertrand and Routt interrogate previous studies, and use the most recent discoveries to establish what we can know about the film’s making and reception. They also speculate about what the film might mean for us today, in its fragmentary state – and the result has much to teach us about how films survive and revive.
– Ian Christie, Professor of Film and Media history, Birbeck College, University of London
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