Kelly Gang and Harry Krischock spark first film censorship in South Australia from 1914

The Story of the Kelly Gang met an excited reception at its Adelaide Town Hall screening in 1906.

The Story of the Kelly Gang, screened at Adelaide Town Hall in 1906, worried the South Australian authorities. The bushranger film, based on the national myth of the underdog fighting the system, became a popular genre.

The Advertiser reported that the 1906 screening of The Story of the Kelly Gang “worked the audience up to such a pitch of excitement that . . . Ned Kelly and his followers were cheered again and again”.

When a later version, The Kelly Gang, screened in 1914 the authorities acted swiftly. It was the first film banned in South Australia. The state government’s chief secretary believed scenes of a bank robbery, train derailment and locking of police in their own cells were “demoralising to the younger generation”.

After the banning of The Kelly Gang in 1914, censorship struck again in 1916 when Adelaide cinematographer Harry Krischock’s short film, Hunting Kangaroos by Motor Car, set off public anger. Concerned about films offending public taste, the South Australian Advisory Board of Film Censors was estabslished in 1917.

Another Krischock film, Remorse, the first feature film made in South Australia, caused further problems that year. Although its central theme was a venereal disease warning, a hint of pornography drew the audience and admission was restricted to those over 16.

South Australian Southern Cross Feature Film Company's first film, The Woman Suffers (1918), regarded by some as Australia’s earliest feminist film, directed by Raymond Longford and starring Lottie Lyell, was approved by the state censors subject to certain scenes being eliminated. But the New South Wales chief secretary banned the film without giving reasons after a seven-week run in Sydney. Longford suspected that commercial reasons were behind this banning.

* Information from SA History Hub

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