This week I finally got around to seeing 1917 and True History of the Kelly Gang at the cinema; it’s interesting how long some films will stay showing in multiplexes these days while others still disappear after only a short window space. Mind, burying a film in one early afternoon slot after just one week isn’t, to my mind, a good way to encourage more folk to see it.
1917 is an epic film and worthy of all the awards and accolades it has received. I’ll admit I didn’t see it earlier because I didn’t think it would be my thing, but as a few friends have raved about it having seen it, I thought I’d give it a bash. So glad I did, though glad possibly seems to some an odd word about seeing the horrors of trench warfare. It is an incredible but very sobering film of humanity in extreme circumstances. I found myself noticing the cloth puttees (cloth strips wrapped around from ankle to calf to give support) and remembered the moving Echoes of Villers-Bretonneux at last year’s Fringe.
As well as friends’ acclaim, I decided to go see 1917 because the cast includes some of my favourite actors, and one George MacKay, who has popped up on my radar the last few years. (OMG, just noticed on IMDb on my phone – it’s his birthday today! Happy Birthday, George!) George is also the reason I went to see True History of the Kelly Gang, as he plays Ned Kelly (that and my predilection to things antipodean). Personally, I seriously enjoyed THoftKG, the cinematography, cast, performances, the style and feral feel (akin I felt to Peaky Blinders), I say personally as there are many who hate it for many reasons, I mean, really hate it. Why? Well……
In the film Ned Kelly is beardless, this alone has upset a lot of people! Maybe if I was Australian I’d be quite protective of one of the most iconic Aussie images too, but maybe, it was, possibly even subconsciously, a very visual way to show that this is a fiction NOT a factual re-telling? The film is based on a novel of the same name by Aussie writer Peter Carey; the novel won the Booker Prize in 2001. See that word novel? It’s a fiction, a story. Crikey, if you want to complain about films that are historically inaccurate (yes, I know, me included), British historians have waaay more to be upset about!
Another element that greatly offended many was the “cross-dressing” outlaws. Erm, either those offended haven’t actually seen the film or weren’t paying attention when they did. It’s clearly said that they wear the dresses to freak out people and wrong foot them. One critic wondered where they’d get so many dresses, well, dur, they are thieves! The premise of acting crazy to appear more dangerous and unpredictable is very sound (let’s not forget Klinger in Mash). On top of that the “homo-erotic” moments were too much for some!
I can guess at some of those “moments” that offended, nowadays we’re all so tuned in for spotting the “offensive” even when we ourselves take none. The long-held stares between Ned Kelly and Constable Fitzpatrick (Nicholas Hoult) are quite a thing, but hey, two alpha males and all that; then there’s Ned and Joe’s (Sean Keenan) relationship, apparently too close for some, oh, get over it! Two people of any sex can be close emotionally and physically without it being sexual (and if more folk were capable of realising this it would save a lot of misunderstandings and broken hearts down the way), and again, this is a fiction, why would you care either way?!
In recent times Lord of the Rings Frodo’s and Sam’s relationship has been put under the same skewed microscope. These relationships are not to be viewed under 21st century lens, and isn’t it a shame that close platonic same-sex friendships can’t be perceived as just that? By now some may be jumping to the conclusion that I’m being homophobic, that I’m arguing against these guys being allowed to be gay (really, you must be olympian-standard long jumpers). Yes, you who want to be offended, nay, demand to be offended, and often on behalf of someone else who couldn’t give a rat’s arse.
Really, behave! To each his or her own, I say. And here endeth a slightly ranty post. Next up, more on THoftKG and the birthday boy.