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The Proposition (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


A notorious outlaw living in the Australian outback is coerced into hunting down and killing his older brother, another sociopathic killer, in order to save his younger brother from execution in this visceral western deconstruction set in the Colonial Australian outback.

The Proposition is a 2005 western set in the colonial era, 1880s Australian outback, and directed by John Hillcoat from a screenplay by musician Nick Cave.

In this brutal western, Guy Pearce plays the criminal Charlie Burns who is living in the outback with his brothers Arthur (Danny Huston) and Mikey (Richard Wilson). They’re on the run for rape and murder. Arthur, the eldest brother, and leader of the Burns brothers’ gang is a true sociopath with a long history of run-ins with the law. Mikey is the youngest, most retiring, and impressionable of the bunch. Arthur tends to hideout in some of the harshest and ungovernable villages, leaving law enforcement afraid to even go apprehend him. They do manage to capture Charlie and Mikey, however, and the local lawman, Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone), approaches Charlie with a proposition: he will keep Mikey captive and alive if Charlie will hunt and kill his brother Arthur. Realizing the only way he can save his naïve and scared younger brother is to go and do the thing he’s not sure he can do, Charlie set out to find Arthur. Meanwhile, Stanley’s attempts to bring Old World British civility to the outback town he oversees become increasingly difficult when the people of the town find out that he had wanted rapist and murderer Charlie Burns captive but set him free, all while the anxious, uncouth, and lonely men of the town become more and more lustful over his wife Martha (Emily Watson).

The Proposition has come into criticism for so many things, not the least of which is its unrelenting violence and unapologetic exposure of the racism and brutality of British colonialism. But these elements are what make The Proposition so brilliant and more than just a banal entry into the genre. This film doesn’t even seek to deconstruct the genre – we’re well past those days – it merely presents the elements, the characters, the good, the bad, and the violent. Hillcoat gives us the ethereal beauty of the desert heat and turns Nick Cave’s almost poetic screenplay into virtual dreamscape.

The Video

For this release the Super 35mm negative of The Proposition has been scanned
at 4K resolution. Director John Hillcoat and cinematographer Benoit Delhomme were both involved in the color grading process which was undertaken at Silver Salt Restoration. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in an HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement framed at 2.35:1.  The slow, medium, and high-speed Kodak Vision2 100T 5212, Vision2 200T 5217, and Vision2 500T 5218 film stock comes across naturally in this restoration, but the low budget production acts as a bit of a hindrance to bringing the most detailed and sharpest detail in many frames. A lot of the desert/outback brightly lit, sunny outdoors scenes have super-fine detail and show fantastic ‘pop.’ That sunlight looks scorching, and the Dolby Vision’s wide color gamut also brings a stunning array of colors to the pallet. Look at the sunset in the clouds at Chapter 2 around the 00:13:16 mark for the sort of nuanced image we get in this fantastic color grading.

The Audio

The original audio for The Proposition is presented in both LPCM 2.0 stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 configurations. The lossless 5.1 mix, which is what I used as the reference to review this disc, is very lush and spacious, with a nice, wet sounding atmosphere, which can be heard from the opening score over the opening credits that fill the channels. Dialogue is clean and gunshots ring true without being fatiguing to the ears. There is a little bit of low end extension, but I wouldn’t call it bombastic by any means. There are moments where some solid sound effects get mixed into the surrounds, especially during the most brutal scenes.

The Supplements

While many of the bonus features included are port-overs from older releases, there is plenty to sink your teeth into.

  • Audio commentary with director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave. Recorded in 2006.
  • Audio commentary with film critics Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Josh Nelson. Recorded 2021.
  • John Hillcoat and Nick Cave in Conversation (4K; 00:53:05) – The director and screenwriter of The Proposition discuss their film in this conversation, newly recorded for this release.
  • 2022 Trailer (4K)
  • Stills Gallery (4K) – A gallery of stills by acclaimed photographer Polly Borland.

Special Features Blu-ray Disc:

  • The Making of The Proposition (1080i/50; 00:27:21) — Archival making-of documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew.
  • Inside The Proposition 1080i/50; 00:43:09):
    • Introduction and Script
    • Characters
    • Research and History
    • Themes
  • Shooting The Proposition (1080i/50; 00:24:55) – Five short featurettes focusing on the film’s shoot and the challenges faced by the cast and crew:
    • Shooting in the Heat
    • On John Hillcoat
    • On Working Together
    • On Winton, the Location
    • On Shooting on Sacred Land
  • B-roll footage (1080i/50; 00:19:32)
  • Interview with Guy Pearce (1080i/50; 00:13:38) – An interview wit the Emmy-winning actor, recorded around d the UK release of The Proposition in 2006.
  • Interview with Danny Huston (1080i/50; 00:07:32) – 2006 interview with actor and director Danny Huston.
  • Trailers:
    • Teaser trailer (1080i/50)
    • Original theatrical trailer (1080i/50)
  • Stills galleries (1080p)
    • Original publicity stills
    • Costume designs and sketches by Margot Wilson

The Final Assessment

A visceral, relentless western in a beautiful 4K restoration from the BFI packed with a wonderful array of bonus features. The BFI has done a brilliant job with this one and it deserves discovery, rediscovery, or your utmost consideration as a cinephile, fan of westerns, or collector.

The Proposition is out on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray 11 April 2022 in the UK from the BFI

  • Rating Certificate: UK:18
  • Studios & Distributors: UK Film Council | Surefire Film Productions | Autonomous | Jackie O Productions | Pictures in Paradise | Pacific Film and Television Commission (with the participation of: Queensland Government company) | Film Consortium | National Lottery through UK Film Council | The BFI
  • Director: John Hillcoat
  • Written By: Nick Cave (screenplay)
  • Run Time: 104 Mins.
  • Street Date: 11 April 2022
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English HOH

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A notorious outlaw living in the Australian outback is coerced into hunting down and killing his older brother, another sociopathic killer, in order to save his younger brother from execution in this visceral western deconstruction set in the Colonial Australian outback.The Proposition (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)