A (Very) Brief History of the Bushranger 'Ned Kelly' and the 'Kelly Gang' is a 2002 historical brickfilm by Nick Maniatis about the life of Australian criminal Ned Kelly. It was an entry to the Historical Fiction Contest on Brickfilms.com and won the award for Best Film, as well as being nominated for Best Animation.
An audience watches a film about bushranger Ned Kelly in an art gallery which is displaying paintings of Kelly by Sidney Nolan.
In 1874, Ned Kelly is released from prison in Victoria, Australia following horse and cattle theft but there are still warrants out for the arrest of Ned and his brother Dan for additional reasons. Some time later, police trooper Alexander Fitzpatrick arrives drunk at the Kelly residence with warrants for the brothers' arrests but finds only Dan and their sister, Kate. When Fitzpatrick makes a pass at Kate, Dan fights him away and in the scuffle accidentally sets off Fitzpatrick's gun, shooting Fitzpatrick. Ned arrives on horseback from the around the back of the house and runs away with Dan, knowing that the troopers will not believe the shooting was an accident. Later, a group of troopers arrive at the Kelly household and arrest Kate for assaulting a trooper.
Ned and Dan arrive at Ned's hideout and decide to lay low. Later that day, their accomplices, Steve and Joe, arrive to tell the brothers that Kate has been arrested. The gang don their armor and vow to get revenge. After some time, police Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Lonigan, Scanlon and McIntyre set up camp at the nearby Stringybark Creek on a hunt for the Kelly gang. Ned spots them when he is scouting down by the creek and alerts his gang. The gang ride to the creek and force the troopers to give up their weapons, but Scanlon attempts to fight back and is shot. The remaining troopers try to run and two of them are shot, with one managing to escape.
The Kelly Gang are on the run following the Stringybark slaughter and are in need of money, so decide to rob the National Bank. They make off with £2000 and each gang member has a £1000 bounty put on their head. Two months later, the gang cross into NSW and rob the bank of NSW for £2000, getting their bounties increased to £8000 each. Months later, the Kelly gang capture a railway station and cut the tracks to stop troopers on their trail, but an informant lets the troopers know and they reroute. As the Kelly gang are robbing a nearby hotel, the troopers arrive and ambush them, killing Steve, Joe and Dan in a battle. Ned exits with his hands up and is brought to trial. He is found guilty of a multitude of crimes and sentenced to death by hanging. Ned Kelly declares in his last words "Arr well, I suppose it has come to this. Such is life.", and is hanged.
The film took inspiration from the paintings of Australian artist Sidney Nolan, which are displayed throughout. Maniatis wished to portray Ned Kelly as he is perceived by Australian culture, and felt that showing this artist's interpretation of him would achieve this effect. The blocky design of the helmets in the film were inspired by their appearance in Sidney Nolan's paintings, which are considered iconic depictions of Ned Kelly. Maniatis would go on to adopt the brick-built helmet as his logo and hide the Ned Kelly figure in future films.
Maniatis also released a different film starring Ned Kelly prior to this one, NK2020, which was produced to procrastinate from and warm up for his Historical Fiction film after researching Kelly. It depicts Ned Kelly in the future, and it was the first work by Maniatis to include the classic 4-frame walk cycle, which he would proliferate in brickfilming by writing a tutorial for it on his website, which became widely shared.