B-Movie Corner: The Proposition

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First Posted: 11/16/2014

The western is a film genre that has been lacking in recent years with the true grit that the popular Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns had in the 1960’s. However in 2005 a truly spectacular western was released and seemingly slipped under the radar of many, that film is “The Proposition.”

Written by the incomparable musician Nick Cave, who also wrote the screenplay for Lawless from 2012, the film is an unflinching look at survival in the west, this time being set in the Australian outback in the 1880’s.

The film opens in a remote wood building with a violent gunfight between the police and Charlie Burns’ gang, which ends with the deaths of all of the gang members except for Charlie and his younger brother Mikey. Captain Stanley makes a proposition to Charlie: he and the Mikey can go free of the crimes committed if Charlie kills his older brother, Arthur.

Arthur is a psychopath who is so vicious the Aboriginal tribes call him “The Dog Man” and everyone refuses to go near his camp. Charlie has nine days to find and kill Arthur, or else Mikey will be hanged from the gallows on Christmas Day.

Charlie, fearing for his less-than-able-minded younger brother Mikey’s life, sets off to find Arthur and either kill him or bring him to justice. The ride itself causes Charlie to reflect upon his life and his relationship with his brothers.

Along the way Charlie has encounters with bounty hunters and Aboriginals before he finally finds his brother Arthur and his gang.

This is far from a typical American western that many may have sat down to watch when they were younger and instead is a film that is not for the squeamish. The violence is most certainly evident on screen but not intended to be provocative. Instead it shows the brutality that many endured during this time period in this part of the world.

The true drama of this film is in the true intentions that many have in their hearts despite what they do in the outside world. While westerns have long been meant to show “true manliness” with old heroes such as John Wayne and the Lone Ranger, “The Proposition” shows manliness as an unflinching move towards completing a task at hand.

As stated previously this is most unquestionably a violent film, but it is an absolute must see film for fans of any film genre. The truly great western films are built upon solid story writing and cinematography and this film undoubtedly has both.

Final Verdict: Westerns have long had a bad rap for being hokey or far from realistic. “The Proposition” is an uncensored real look at life in the 1880’s in the Australian outback and while in America we may not have a direct tie to that time and place, it resonates the same as any of the great westerns do by harkening back to a bygone era.

Where can I get it? : “The Proposition” is available at many online retailers on DVD and Blu-ray. Try getting either from retailers such as Amazon, Overstock, Target, and Best Buy. The Proposition is also currently available for streaming on Amazon.