260 user 170 critic

The Proposition (2005)

2:16 | Trailer
A lawman apprehends a notorious outlaw and gives him nine days to kill his older brother, or else they'll execute his younger brother.


John Hillcoat


Nick Cave (screenplay)
13 wins & 30 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Wilson ... Mike Burns
Noah Taylor ... Brian O'Leary
Jeremy Madrona Jeremy Madrona ... Asian Prostitute
Jae Mamuyac Jae Mamuyac ... Asian Prostitute
Guy Pearce ... Charlie Burns
Mick Roughan ... Mad Jack Bradshaw
Shane Watt Shane Watt ... John Gordon
Ray Winstone ... Captain Stanley
Robert Morgan ... Sergeant Lawrence
David Gulpilil ... Jacko
Bryan Probets ... Officer Dunn
Oliver Ackland ... Patrick Hopkins
Danny Huston ... Arthur Burns
David Vallon ... Tom Cox
Daniel Parker Daniel Parker ... Henry Clark


Rural Australia in the late nineteenth century: Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) and his men capture two of the three Burns brothers, Charlie (Guy Pearce) and Mike (Richard Wilson). Their gang is held responsible for attacking the Hopkins farm, raping pregnant Mrs. Hopkins and murdering the whole family. Arthur Burns (Danny Huston), the eldest brother and the gang's mastermind, remains on the loose and has retreated to a mountain hideout. Captain 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. Written by Armin Ortmann {armin@sfb288.math.tu-berlin.de}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This land will be civilized. See more »


Crime | Drama | Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong grisly violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The wardrobe was handmade to be as authentic as possible, and even the buttons were all handmade for this movie. See more »


When preparing for the rescue of Mike, Samuel Stoat places his two revolvers in their holsters close together at the front. Two shots later, the holsters are moved back on opposite hips. See more »


[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.
See more »


Rule Britannia
(1740) (uncredited)
Music by Thomas Augustine Arne
Words by James Thomson
Sung a cappella by Robert Morgan and other officers
See more »

User Reviews

Strange And Violent Western Set In The Outback
10 July 2013 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

Captain Stanley captures two notorious outlaw brothers Charlie and Mickey Burns . He makes a proposal to Charlie . If Charlie goes and kills the leader of their gang Arthur Burns and brings his body back they will be given an amnesty . If not Mickey will be hung on Christmas day which is nine days away

You always know what you're going to get with a film by Australian director John Hillcoat namely strong memorable drama that's best viewed with a ready supply of anti-depressants . You also know what you're not going to get , laughs , mirth and a strong narrative drive . Certainly both GHOSTS OF THE CIVIL DEAD and THE ROAD suffered slightly from a lack of a strong narrative drive and in this British produced pseudo Western set in 19th Century Australia there's also a sign of this flaw from the director

The premise is one that grabs you and leads you to ask what you would do in that situation but as soon as Charlie leaves town on his quest the story meanders slightly as we're shown lots of panoramas of the Australian outback with a vague mystical air which will remind you of Australian cinema of the 1970s where the landscapes were the stars of the movie . One also gets the feeling in the first third that you're might be watching an Aussie version of APOCALYPSE NOW where a man with a mission involving extreme prejudice finds his target building an empire amongst the natives

This doesn't happen thankfully and after a slightly unfocused first 40 minutes the story gets back on track with characterisation coming to the fore . THE PROPOSITION is much more character driven than the premise promises . There is a slight cop out in that Mickey is the poor unintelligent younger brother who has merely tagged along with the gang through family peer pressure and while Arthur isn't portrayed by Danny Huston as a stock psychotic villain with staring eyes and manic laugh his actions do more than enough to convince the audience that this rabid criminal dog needs to be put out of his misery . The characterisation between the good younger brother and the violent bad older brother could been written and developed as a bit more grey but there again it might have made it more difficult to cheer on Charlie the middle brother played by Guy Pearce

The cast are excellent and special mention goes to Ray Winstone who is a national institution in Britain and watching him here you're aware of how underrated he is and gives a depth to Captain Stanley a man tormented by trying to uphold the law without giving in to rough justice from the locals . It's perhaps difficult to believe a rough working class bloke would be married to Emily Watson's rather middle class Martha but Watson does manage to project an innocence that seems out of place but that's undoubtedly the point . One character that did puzzle me was Jellon Lamb . John Hurt of course steals the show every scene he appears in but is there any point to the character except to spout Darwin ? it's a slightly confused and unnecessary character

And THE PROPOSITION is a slightly confused film that stops it from attaining true classic status . It's a bleak nihilistic character study from John Hillcoat and contains all the strengths and weaknesses from the director's prior and future work . That said it's much better than most of the films the UK Film Council insist on wasting their money on from the same period

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

Bodega Films [France]


Australia | UK


English | Aboriginal

Release Date:

9 June 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Proposition See more »

Filming Locations:

Australia See more »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,681, 7 May 2006

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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