The Proposition

October 6, 2005 0 By Fans
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Nick Cave at event of The PropositionNick Cave at event of The PropositionGuy Pearce at event of The PropositionNick Cave at event of The PropositionJohn Hillcoat at event of The PropositionJohn Hillcoat at event of The Proposition


A lawman apprehends a notorious outlaw and gives him 9 days to kill his older brother, or else they'll execute his younger brother.

Release Year: 2005

Rating: 7.5/10 (26,860 voted)

Critic's Score: 73/100

John Hillcoat

Stars: Ray Winstone, Guy Pearce, Emily Watson

Rural Australia in the late nineteenth century: Capt. Stanley and his men capture two of the four Burns brothers, Charlie and Mike. Their gang is held responsible for attacking the Hopkins farm, raping pregnant Mrs. Hopkins and murdering the whole family. Arthur Burns, the eldest brother and the gang's mastermind, remains at large has and has retreated to a mountain hideout. Capt. Stanley's proposition to Charlie is to gain pardon and – more importantly – save his beloved younger brother Mike from the gallows by finding and killing Arthur within nine days.


Richard Wilson

Mike Burns

Noah Taylor

Brian O'Leary

Jeremy Madrona

Asian Prostitute

Jae Mamuyac

Asian Prostitute

Guy Pearce

Charlie Burns

Mick Roughan

Mad Jack Bradshaw

Shane Watt

John Gordon

Ray Winstone

Captain Stanley

Robert Morgan

Sergeant Lawrence

David Gulpilil


Bryan Probets

Officer Dunn

Oliver Ackland

Patrick Hopkins

Danny Huston

Arthur Burns

David Vallon

Tom Cox

Daniel Parker

Henry Clark

This land will be civilized.


Official Website:
Bodega Films [France] |

Release Date: 6 October 2005

Filming Locations: Queensland, Australia

Box Office Details

Budget: $20,000,000


Opening Weekend: £205,594
(12 March 2006)
(118 Screens)

Gross: $1,900,725
(10 September 2006)

Technical Specs


(Toronto International Film Festival)

Did You Know?


Nick Cave finished the script in three weeks.


The song "Danny Boy" from "Londonderry Air" was originally written in 1910, which was alluded by John Hurt; however, the film takes place in the 1880's.


[first lines]

Captain Stanley:
Do I need to introduce myself?

Charlie Burns:
I know who you are.

Captain Stanley:
Good. I know who you are.

User Review

Fine Australian drama

Rating: 9/10

Following the rape and murder of a colonial family, outlaw brothers
Charlie and Mikey burns are captured by ruthless local lawman, Captain
Stanley. Rather than imprison both fugitives, Stanley presents Charlie
with a proposition (though it's really a demand) that Charlie kill his
older brother, and gang leader, Arthur or else Mikey will meet his
demise at the end of a hangman's noose. It is a proposition which will
have karmic repercussions for all involved.

Directed by Brisbanite John Hillcoate from a script by Aussie indie
icon Nick Cave, this film has some of the most gorgeous photography of
the Australian outback ever committed to film, showcasing it's unique
desolate beauty in it's dust, flies and exquisite sunsets.

Hillcoate assembles a very fine ensemble cast, most notably Ray
Winstone as Captain Stanley and Guy Pearce as Charlie Burns – two
actors performing at the top of their game. Danny Huston is effective
as Arthur Burns, a man whose serene exterior belies his vicious
temperament. Other performers include Emily Watson and John Hurt, as
well as fine Australian talent David Wenham, Leah Purcell, Tommy Lewis
and quintessential movie aborigine David Gulpilil. All performances are

Despite it's high violence quotient, the film has an admirable lack of
moralistic tone. There are no obvious good guys and bad guys, all the
characters are shades of grey possessing both positive and negative
attributes, although some characters may lean one way or the other. In
particular, Captain Stanley has a good heart though history may judge
his methods of justice with contempt, and Charlie Burns has a fierce
sense of loyalty and honour but his associated family ties have led him
to commit horrific crimes. Even Captain Stanley's wife, Martha, in all
her Victorian innocence and naivety, has a dark side to her soul; an
attribute which will further propel all towards their destinies.

It's strong subtext of white colonialists' condescending treatment of
the aboriginal population puts this film in fine company with other
Australian indigenous-themed films such as Fred Schepisi's The Chant Of
Jimmy Blacksmith, Nicholas Roeg's Walkabout, Rolf de Heer's The Tracker
and Phillip Noyce's Rabbit Proof Fence. The Proposition is the best of
these. This is a big call, I know, but the fact is that none of those
other very fine Australian films possess the tension which so
completely permeates Hillcoates' picture. This film represents a major
achievement for both Hillcoate and Cave and is the best Australian film
to leave these shores since Ray Lawrence's Lantana.

8.5 out of 10.

Slick. 😎