If you come in my cage I'll eat you too!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Proposition, the movie. Contains spoilers!!

I saw The Proposition last night. I loved every minute of it. I love movies that are intense and brutal. It's an Australian Spaghetti Western. It stars, Ray Winstone and John Hurt, both of whom are, as always, fabulous. I can't talk about the character John Hurt plays without spoiling the plot, but he is great. This movie is not for everyone, one couple left the movie theater when the movie began to get very violent. The plot revolves around a man, (Guy Pearce) sent to find his brother, who is the head of a vicious Irish outlaw band wanted for brutally raping and murdering a pregnant woman. Ray Winstone is a police captain whose wife was a friend of the victim and he has vowed to institute civilized behavior and rule of law to the outback at any cost. He captures 2 of the murderer's brothers and uses the younger one of the 2, as leverage to force the elder one to capture the head of the gang, who has disappeared into the wilderness, where only the Aboriginal Australians live.

I am enamoured of Australian history, which is similar to the history of my favorite state, California. The movie deals with the British colonizers trying to institute their form of civilization to the outback. The amazing thing is to my mind, that they actually were successful, in the long run. I would have loved to have been there during the colonial period, as harsh and brutal as it was. I have always felt that I was born in the wrong century.

There is so much going on in this movie. The fact that white women were so completely protected, that a husband could not tell his wife that a friend of hers had been sexually violated. That the animosity between the British and the Irish continued into new lands. That the Aboriginals were the victims of everyone. Ray Winstone's police Captain is willing to shoot up a hut and kill Asian prostitutes in order to capture a band of outlaws that raped and killed a white woman. John Hurt's character keeps saying, "we are white men, not animals," but the civilized white men are as brutish as anyone. The lives of non-whites and the Irish were considered worthless, by the British. The police Captain (Winstone) was miserable in the outback and his wife (Emily Watson) tried to recreate a little oasis of Britian in the middle of the desert for him. It was touching, and yet you felt the ridiculous futility of her attempts to pretend a delicate code of behavior could be maintained in the wilderness. As I watched the desert vistas, I kept thinking about a scene in the movie Gallipoli, when Mark Lee and Mel Gibson are hiking through the out back and they come upon an old stockman and they tell him that they are going off to fight the Germans in WWI and the stockman asks them why, and they tell him that if they don't fight the Germans over "there," that the Germans might come over "here". The stockman looks around at the Australian desert and says, "They are welcome to it!"

There are 2 other movies in this same vein that I also love, We of the Never Never, and Utu. We of the Never, Never is based on the life of a woman that came to the outback to marry a sheep station owner. She came up against sheepmen who so despised women that they didn't want to be touched by one, even when dying. They felt that women were an unwanted, civilizing force (true) who were going to spoil their good time. Utu is a film from New Zealand about a Maori that fights for the British until he comes upon a massacre of his people and turns against the British and leads a band of Maori on a quest for revenge. Great movie!

I saw a documentary about British female convicts, (most of whom had committed minor crimes, such as stealing clothes) sent to Australia on a prison ship. They operated a floating brothel most of the way from Britain to Australia and when they got there many of the women became successful legitimate business owners, whose families still run the businesses to this day.


At 3:25 PM , Blogger John Doe said...

Buying, reading, playing with Devil Dog and watching movies. I suppose it has been a good week!

I'm not sure if I would like the films you write about, at least the western. I don't like westerns (my father loves this sort of films, my Anti-American brother loves John Wayne: CON-CON-CONTRADICTION!!!).

I liked Guy Pearce in Ravenous. I've watched this movie several times. Although it has a few mistakes --for example, the music--, I think it develops a good idea. Wendigo, nice. (It makes me think about The wendigo, by Algernon Blackwood --good tale, I read it in Cthulhu Mythos--, and Pet sematary, by Stephen King --very good novel--).

At 7:27 PM , Blogger Miss Carnivorous said...

I own very few movies, but Wendigo is one that I do own. I also own Frailty, another good one. The Proposition is very close to Ravenous in feel. It's a Horror western, really or a Horrible western, whichever you like. I loved Ravenous as well, despite the fact that it was filmed in Prague, it brought to mind the Donner party story and the Sierras, which I love. The Proposition is absolutely nothing, whatsoever like a John Wayne film. Although John Wayne's film The Cowboys is one of my very favorites as well, mostly because I love Roscoe Lee Brown as Mr Nightlinger.

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