Tuesday, July 11, 2006

the proposition

i can't say enough about this movie. it lived up to expectations and far, far more.

it's a very brutal western, set in the australian outback. the movie is a study in contrasts - namely the contrast of civilization (the british) and the primitive (the australians/immigrants). the story revolves around the burns gang, a group of brothers with a history of violent crimes. one is to be hanged - and his older brother is given the option of hunting down and killing their other brother - so that his youngest (who is very simple minded) can live. hence the title.

the movie is filmed gorgeously, the music is unforgettable, and the acting is pitch perfect. there isn't a ton of dialogue or action. so much of the movie is conveyed through scenery and brief interchanges between characters. hell, there are moments when facial expressions convey an enormous amount - perhaps more than actual dialogue could have. what makes it so interesting is both the moral ambiguity that the storyline presents and the multiple paralells that exist within the story. aborigines play a part - and the paralell between how the aborigines view the white immigrants (subhuman) and how arthur burns (the eldest, amoral? of the burns brothers) views those outside of his familial circle is really rockin'. the movie is also heavy on symbolism - letting the rugged outback of the australian desert serve as a constant reminder of the brutality of the burns gang, as well as perhaps a commentary on their moral character?

one of the british characters, stanley - lives in this desert, in a house surrounded by a fence, with carefully cultivated rosebushes everywhere. the juxtaposition of the desert with the lushness of this oasis -- ahh!!! i love symbolism!! the whole movie is frought with examples like that. where scenery and careful directing impart a subtle but brilliant theme to the film. it's how - with so little dialogue and action - the movie manages to convey a definite theme, mood, and message. or maybe less of a message, more of an idea - that the line between good and evil is very thin and can be difficult to discern. it's certainly a depressing movie.

i loved it. but it was extremely violent. the violence was infrequent and usually the camera cut away rapidly - so it wasn't over the top gore. but it was still a little more than i could handle. i watched a couple of scenes through my fingers. it's definitely a brutal movie - but so so good. and this comes from me. i don't like westerns, and i still don't understand the whole unforgiven fuss. but this movie...wow.

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