Cinema surveillance images are loading at the bottom of the page

The proposition - Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, David Wenham, David Gulpilil, John Hillcoat

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

A powerfully gripping story that tells of two brothers in conflict, the film has a truly epic sweep. Set in the 1880s, The proposition opens in the middle of a frenzied gunfight between the police and a gang of outlaws. Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his brother Mikey (Richard Wilson) are captured by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone). Together with their psychopathic brother Arthur, they are wanted for a brutal crime. Stanley makes Charlie a seemingly impossible proposition in an attempt to bring an end to the cycle of bloody violence.

Theatrical propaganda posters

The proposition image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film Australia western cowboy crime gang colony British murder aborigine revenge

Persons of interest

  • Tom Budge .... Samuel Stote
  • Guy Pearce .... Charlie Burns
  • Emily Watson .... Martha Stanley
  • Ray Winstone .... Captain Stanley
  • David Wenham .... Eden Fletcher
  • John Hurt .... Jellon Lamb
  • David Gulpilil
  • Leah Purcell
  • Richard Wilson .... Mike Burns
  • Tommy Lewis
  • Robert Morgan .... Sergeant Lewis
  • Boris Brkic .... Officer Holloway
  • Iain Gardiner .... Officer Matthews
  • Danny Huston .... Arthur Burns
  • Garry Waddell .... Officer Davenport
  • Noah Taylor .... Brian O'Leary
  • Nick Cave .... Screenwriter, Composer
  • John Hillcoat .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

The proposition is what is best described as a lyrical Australian western. I'd always been a bit dodgy when it comes to the meaning of the word lyrical but The proposition is definitely what lyrical is supposed to mean. Melodic. Flowing. Sensual. Heightened. Deepened. Enhanced. There is more that meets the eye than any Hollywood western. Sure, there are empty open spaces, "cowboys", frontier towns, a "sheriff", "Indians", horses, ranchers, shoot-outs, whores, blacksmiths, native trackers, dandies and the like, yet with all that, this film owes more to Moulin Rouge than The outlaw Josey Wales.

Much like One night the moon in style, The proposition is a film that could only be made in (and about) Australia. The landscape shapes the people who live here more than they can ever affect it: this is reflected in the story. A bunch of dodgy Empire British struggling to survive despite the heat, dust and flies, sweating in their tweed jackets and busselled dresses, slurping down their cups of tea, roasting up a freshly-slaughtered turkey, plopped down in the middle of nowhere, far beyond the black stump, lost in an alcoholic haze, drunken lechery the only way to escape their mortification. [I don't know where that sentence was supposed to go but it sure has a lot of commas. - Director of Intelligence.]

One aspect of this cracker little film that impressed me is the dirt. Most period dramas set in this era have actors who could be sitting on a sound stage in a studio somewhere south of Sydney. Not here. Dirt, sweat, dust, mud, blood and flies are the only constant in their lives. The one person who maintains physically cleanliness throughout the film is Martha Stanley (wife of the Pilatean Captain Stanley), marooned on their dessicated station, and she ends up dirtier than all the rest put together.

Trust me, there are no happy endings.

The proposition is the kind of film which I have no hesitation in recommending as a historical textbook for Australian children, both for its verisimilitude and for its black drama. If you've never been a fan of westerns, this one might just change your mind.

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (Strong violence, coarse language)

Surveillance time

104 minutes (1:44 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 6 October 2005

Cinema surveillance images

The proposition imageThe proposition imageThe proposition imageThe proposition imageThe proposition image

[ Return to top ]