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The Proposition

4.1 out of 5 stars 208 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Set against the harsh and unforgiving landscape of the 1880s Australian outback, The Proposition is a visually stunning tale of loyalty, revenge and the quest for justice in a lawless land. Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) is a renegade. Along with his two brothers, Arthur (Danny Huston) and Mikey (Richard Wilson), he is wanted for murder. When Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) captures Charlie and Mikey, he offers Charlie a proposition in an attempt to end the brutality that surrounds them -- the only way to save Mikey from the noose is for Charlie to track down and kill Arthur, his psychotic older brother. An impossible moral dilemma leads to a murderous climax.

Amazon.com

A savage Western set in Australia's Outback, The Proposition is relentless in its intensity and bloody imagery. Set in the late 19th century, the film tells the brutal story of a gang of brothers that kills not out of desperation, but because they can. Arthur Burns (Danny Huston) is the mastermind who shares little in common (other than total disregard for human life) with his younger brother Charlie (Guy Pearce, L.A. Confidential, Memento). When Charlie and their baby brother Mike (Richard Wilson) are captured, Charlie is offered a proposition to save their necks from the gallows. "Suppose, Mr. Burns, I was to give both you and your young brother Mikey, here, a pardon," offers Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone). "Suppose I said that I could give you the chance to expunge the guilt beneath which you so clearly labor.... Now, suppose you tell me what it is I want from you." Without blinking, Charlie says, "You want me to kill my brother." For most people, this would be an unthinkable proposition. For Charlie, the answer's obvious. He'll do whatever he has to spare his own life, even if that means trading his for Arthur's. The Proposition at times is a difficult film to watch. But thanks to a compelling story by rocker Nick Cave and a supporting cast (including Emily Watson as the Captain's gentle wife), the film is a classic in the making. --Jae-Ha Kim

Special Features

  • Director and Writer Commentary
  • 5 Behind the Scenes Featurettes
  • Still gallery
  • Previews

Product Details

  • Actors: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Emily Watson, John Hurt
  • Directors: John Hillcoat
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: First Look Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: September 19, 2006
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GIW9I2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,562 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Proposition" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Sandoc on August 1, 2006
Verified Purchase
When I first saw John Hillcoat's film The Proposition I was literally shocked and dumbstruck with what I had just witnessed. As a long-time aficionado of the horror genre I could say that part of me has become desensitized to onscreen violence and nothing really shocks me. Even though I've seen films with more violence throughout its running time, The Proposition just had a heavy sense of despair, moral ambiguity, and a Miltonian feel throughout. The film felt like how it would be if one accepted an offer from one of the damned to stroll down to the Nine Circles of Hell. As much as I didn't want to accept that offer the curiosity of what I might see won out. That's how I was able to sit through the entirety of Hillcoat's ultra-violent and nihilistic tale of lawless and amoral individuals in the untamed wilderness of 1880's Australian Outback.

I must agree with film critic Roger Ebert when he said The Proposition seemed to mirror another dark and violent tale. Hillcoat's film shares so much the same themes and tone as Cormac McCarthy's brutal novel, Blood Meridian, that one almost wondered if the film was adapted from McCarthy's great novel. But similarities aside, Hillcoat and Nick Cave's (director and writer respectively) film can clearly stand on its own two bloody legs.

The film begins with a bloody siege and shootout and we're soon introduced to two of the three Burns' brothers. We soon find out that both brothers, Charlie (played by Guy Pearce)and Mikey (played by Richard Wilson) are outlaws wanted for a multitude of heinous crimes with a recent one the senseless rape and murder of the Hopkins family. One Capt. Stanley (Ray Winstone) who acts as law in this particular area of the Outback. He's gives older brother Charlie a proposition.
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This film has often been compared to Eastwood's spare and dark UNFORGIVEN. There are certainly many similarities in tone. But if anything, there is even less redemption available at the end of this Australian western than at the end of that Oscar winner.

Simply put, Ray Winstone plays the equivalent of the "new sheriff" in a very small, dreary dusty "western" town in Australia. The worst bandits in his area, the Burns brothers, are his primary goal, and when he corners and captures the two youngest brothers, Mickey and Charley (Guy Pearce), he offers Charley a proposition. He and his simple younger brother will be released if Charley goes out and kills his psychopathic older brother Arthur. If not, Mickey will be hung on Christmas Day, a few days away.

The fallout from this simple proposition is bleak, bleak, bleak. The film is slow moving and takes time to establish tone and to let us savor the unbelievable Australian scenery. As John Hurt (as a bounty hunter) says, it's the most horrific place he's ever been. The scenery is beautiful (sunsets, colorful rocks) and brutal...long expanses of sand and scruff. But the slow pace is punctuated with moments of extremely graphic violence. Each bullet hole or knife wound (or spear wound) is painful to watch. I'm not sure when I last saw a movie that made violence appear so unpleasant, so painful and so ugly.

Everyone in the film is great. Guy Pearce...exceedingly grubby...is torn between deciding how to deal with one of his brothers inevitably dieing. Ray Winstone gives a rich performance...just when we think we've got this guy figured out, he shows another layer. And then another. He wins our sympathy finally. Emily Watson is his wife, and her performance is a litle colorless...
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Format: DVD
Historically, and from a character perspective, there's still mining to be done in western films, and THE PROPOSITION gives us a great sense of both. Aussie director John Hillcoat delves into Australia in the 1880s, telling about the bloody lawlessness and aboriginal prejudices.

The story centers around the outlaw Burns brothers, Charlie (Guy Pearce, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL), Mike (DECK DOGZ) and Arthur (Danny Huston, THE CONSTANT GARDNER). When Charlie and Mike are caught by local lawman Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone, COLD MOUNTAIN), Charlie is pulled aside and given a distasteful proposition: kill your brother Arthur and Mike will live. Charlie loves Mike dearly and hardly knows his other brother, Arthur. He grudgingly accepts the terms but it quickly becomes clear that he's unsure what to do. Is the killing of one family member in order to save another morally apprehensible? What if your moral boundaries are skewed?

Charlie rides off to find his brother in the searing Australian Outback.

Meanwhile, back in town, Captain Stanley is having great difficulty controlling its citizens once they learn one of the dreaded Burns brothers is in the local jail. A powerful bureaucrat named Eden Fletcher (David Wenham, THE LORD OF THE RINGS) demands swift justice. He orders that Mike Burns be lashed 100 times. Knowing that Mike probably won't survive this, but also battling feelings his lovely wife Martha (Emily Watson, GOSFORD PARK) has about the crimes Mike has committed, Captain Stanley is forced to give in to the township's demands.

Back in the Outback, Charlie finally runs into his twisted brother and comes face-to-face with his worst fears: killing someone of his own flesh and blood. Can he do it? Should he do it?
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