The Proposition

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The Proposition is a 2005 film about a lawman who apprehends two outlaws, Charlie and Mike Burns, members of the notorious Burns gang. Charlie Burns is given a deal: he has nine days to kill his older brother, Arthur, the psychotic leader of the gang, or else they'll execute Mikey.

Directed by John Hillcoat. Written by Nick Cave.
This Land Will Be Civilized.

Captain Stanley[edit]

  • Australia. What fresh hell is this?
  • Arthur Burns is a monster. An abomination. You were right to break company with him. What happened at the Hopkins place was unforgivable. I have never seen such a sickening sight. Did you know that that poor woman, Eliza Hopkins, had a child in her belly?
  • You have nine days, Mr. Burns.
  • I've kept company with bad men all my life.
  • I will civilize this land.
  • I wish to present you with a proposition. I know where Arthur Burns is. It is is a godforsaken place. The blacks won't go there, nor the trackers. Not even my own men. I suppose, in time, the bounty hunters will get him. But I have other plans. I aim to bring him down. I aim to show that he is a man like any other. I aim to hurt him. And what will most hurt him? Well, I've thought long and hard about that. And I've realized, Mr. Burns, that I must become a little more inventive in my methods.

Charlie Burns[edit]

  • No more.
  • You touch my brother again, I'll kill you.
  • One more crack about the Irish, Mr. Lamb, and I'll shoot you. Am I clear?
  • You know, Samuel, the thing I relished the most while I was away? Was not having to see your fucking face all the time.
  • I'm going to be with my brother

Arthur Burns[edit]

  • Why can't you ever just … stop me?
  • You got me, Charlie. What are you gonna do now?
  • Look at that. Be humble of heart, Charlie. This is the end of things. You're my brother. You belong with me. We are a family. All of us.
  • Mikey's not the same stuff as us. We will be flung to the depths, you and I.
  • Love. Love is the key. Love and family. For what are night and day, the sun, the moon, the stars without love and those you love around you? What could more hollow than to die alone, unloved?
  • Molly O'Boyle, my arse.
  • [After being shot] Oh, not the gut, Charlie. Shit.
  • [As Samuel tries to rape Martha] Listen to that. He sings just like a bird.
  • This may hurt.

Jellon Lamb[edit]

  • I was, in days gone by, a believer. But, alas, I came to this beleaguered land and the God in me just … evaporated. Let us change our toast, then, to the God that has forgotten us.
  • Mr. Murphy, Russia, China, the Congo. Oh, I have traveled among unknown people in lands beyond the sea. But nothing, nothing could've prepared me for this godforsaken hole.
  • You see, My Dude, I am something of a fortune hunter.
  • [Motions for Charlie to put his gun away] No, no need for that. No need for that. We are white men, you and I!
  • Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Jellon Lamb. Citizen of the world, you might say, an adventurer, and, if I may be so bold, a man of no little education.
  • Charles, eh? Perhaps you've read On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin? Oh, don't be thrown by the title, he had some most fascinating things to say. Chilling things! Mr. Darwin spent time studying Aboriginals. He claims we are, at bottom … one and the same! [Laughs] He infers, Mr. Murphy, that we a share a common ancestry with monkeys! Monkeys!

Two Bob[edit]

  • You've got the wrong fucking black man.
  • Here's your knife back, you dog.
  • I think the job's fucking done.
  • It's all your fault, Charlie. You should never have left us.

Others[edit]

  • Samuel Stote: Without me and my crack shootin', you'd be fucking dingo dinner. 30 yards away, I was. And, pchoo! Blew that black bastard's head right off. It was beautiful.
  • Martha Stanley: She was my friend!
  • Soldiers: [singing] On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: five cats a-floggin, four nooses swinging, three crows a-pecking, two dogs a-pissing, and little Mikey hanging from a pear tree!
  • Eden Fletcher: If you have to kill one, make sure you bloody well kill them all.
  • Jacko: Fellow in the picture, he live in a cave. Dog man. Big fella. He said Dog Man never sleep. He sit there all day. Sit down, in the cave. Way up. He live with small fella and black fella. Cannot catch him. Cannot kill him.
  • Jacko: Strange mob, you whities.

Dialogue[edit]

Captain Stanley: Now, suppose I told you there was a way to save your little brother Mikey from the noose. Suppose I gave you a horse and a gun. Suppose, Mr. Burns, I was to give both you and your young brother Mikey, here, a pardon. Suppose I said that I could give you the chance to expunge the guilt beneath which you so clearly labor. Suppose I gave you till Christmas. Now, suppose you tell me what it is I want from you.
Charlie Burns: You want me to kill me brother.
Captain Stanley: I want you to kill your brother.

Jellon Lamb: [capturing Charlie Burns] Good boy! Nice and tight, eh? Right. Up we get. [Charlie struggles] Oh, no, I wouldn't try that if I were you. Ligatures and knots are one of my many talents. Right. And it appears that you are singularly bereft of any talents whatsoever, Mr. Burns. To be speared by a savage? How extraordinarily quaint. Easy, Mr. Burns. I was drunk. You only got me because I was drunk. Well, I'm not drunk now. I'm on the job now. Not a bad day's work, either. For what is an Irishman, but a nigger turned inside out? Now, we're gonna sit down on this log. Nice and easy, Mr. Burns. There.
[Jellon is shot in the back]
Arthur Burns: [walks up] I really need to stop saving your life, brother.

Martha Stanley: But he's no more than a boy.
Sgt. Lawrence: Oh, he's man enough, Ma'am. Man enough, indeed.

Jellon Lamb: Forgive me, sir, but I've been stuck here with no one but this sorry sack of Hibernian pig shit for conversation. Poor, poor Dan O'Reilly. Sit, sir. Drink with me.
[Charlie cocks his gun and points it to Lamb]
Charlie Burns: One more crack about the Irish, Mr. Lamb, and I'll shoot you. Am I clear?
Jellon Lamb: Oh, as the waters of Ennis, sir. Let us drink, then, to the Irish. No finer race of men have ever … peeled a potato.
[Charlie cocks his gun again and points it to Lamb]
Charlie Burns: Do you pray, Mr. Lamb?
Jellon Lamb: Good Lord, son. No, I do not.

Jacko: They say he is dog.
Capt. Stanley: What? He eats dog?
Jacko: No, Captain, sir. He is dog!

Jellon Lamb: [speaking about Arthur Burns] We are white men, sir, not beasts. Oh, he sits up there in those melancholy hills; some say he sleeps in caves like a beast, slumbers deep like the Kraken. The blacks say that he is a spirit. The troopers will never catch him. Common force is meaningless, Mr. Murphy, as he squats up there on his impregnable perch. So I wait, Mr. Murphy. I wait.
Charlie Burns: [knocks Jellon out with a beer mug] Aye, you wait. You wait here … bounty hunter.

[Looking at the sunset]
Samuel Stote: It sure is pretty.
Arthur Burns: You can never get your fill of nature, Samuel. To be surrounded by it is to be stilled. It salves the heart. The mountains, the trees, the endless plains. The moon, the myriad of stars. Every man can be made quiet and complete. Even the lowliest misanthrope or the wretchedest sinners.
Samuel Stote: What's a misanthrope, Arthur?
Two Bob: Some bugger who fucking hates every other bugger.
Samuel Stote: Hey, I didn't ask you, you black bastard!
Arthur Burns: He's right, Samuel. A misanthrope is one who hates humanity.
Samuel Stote: Is that what we are? Misanthropes?
Arthur Burns: Good Lord, no! We're family!

Jellon Lamb: "There's night and day, brother. Both sweet things. Sun, moon and stars, all sweet things. Very quiet now. There's a wind on the heath. Life is very … sweet, brother."
Arthur Burns: "Life is very sweet, brother. Who would wish to die?" George Borrow, I believe. A worthy writer and a beautiful sentiment, sir. But you're not my brother.

Charlie Burns: You're a copper, Stanley, not a judge and jury.
Capt. Stanley: Clearly, Mr. Burns, I am what I wish to be.

Capt. Stanley: Do I need to introduce myself?
Charlie Burns: I know who you are.
Capt. Stanley: Good. And I know who you are.

Capt. Stanley: Well, allow me to address the subject of your brother, Mr. Burns. Christmas, as you're probably aware, is fast approaching. And Christmas this year will hold a unique significance for young Micky here.
Charlie Burns: [correcting him] Mikey.
Capt. Stanley: Because on Christmas day, I have made plans for him to taken from the jail in Banyon and hanged by the neck until he is dead.

Charlie Burns: So, what is it that you want?
Capt. Stanley: I want Arthur Burns.
Charlie Burns: I no longer ride with me brother.
[Stanley takes out his gun, pauses for a moment, and then pistol whips Mikey across the face]
Capt. Stanley: Now, I will allow you a moment to think about it.

Capt. Stanley: Make no mistake, Mr. Burns. It will be done. I will civilize this place.
Charlie Burns: The fuck are you talking about, Stanley?

Eden Fletcher: Tomorrow morning, I want Mike Burns flogged. As I said, one-hundred lashes.
Capt. Stanley: This will kill him.
Eden Fletcher: So be it.
Capt. Stanley: What if I'm right? What if Charlie Burns does as I ask? What if he comes back?
Eden Fletcher: Then we will hang the lot of them.

Cast[edit]

External links[edit]

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