IMDB and recent reviews don’t list the same credit as the film’s official site & poster: “A Film By Rolf de Heer and the People of Ramingining”.
Young black-and-white Jamie Gulpilil (narrator David’s son) has a crush on his dad’s third wife. He’s joining the older men for the first time on the annual goose-hunt, and along the way, his dad tells Jamie the full-color story of a similar young man (also Jamie) in a similar situation, and how that turned out (father and another man dead, son comically inherits all three wives).
Lovely sidetrack details along the way, like the goose hunt itself (camping up in trees to escape crocs), the sorceror who watches over the town, and the rules that all tribes obeyed to prevent war.
David Gulpilil is humorously telling us the story of the black-and-white movie, which presents the story of the color movie, the hand-me-down nature calling attention to the storytelling itself and the fact that the events are said to have occurred many generations ago. The movie then collapses that sense of endless time by rendering the oldest events, the lesson-teaching ancient story, in vivid color, particularly in the lush greens of the trees and plants.
Apparently the production team strove hard for authenticity, adapting Aboriginal stories to bring the natives’ voices to multiplexes and call attention to the idea that they don’t need the modernization that is being forced upon them. Gulpilil tells us “it’s not your story – it’s MY story”, and so it’s unlike anything else in theaters, in storytelling and in visual style. Great movie, liked it even more than I thought I would. Katy liked, too.
Pretty okay movie. Definitely a strong western with lovely Australian landscapes. Good enough story. Guy Pearce is the bad guy with conscience, part of a whole bad guy family. Arrested with his daft younger brother in a whorehouse shootout, the chief lets him go, promising to free the younger if Guy kills his older, a hardcore killer living in the mountains. Well done, with great acting by Pearce, Ray Winstone (captain), Emily Watson (capn’s wife), and Richard Wilson (younger) and loopy fun acting by David Gulpilil (always the tracker) and John Hurt (bounty hunter).
Fall just short of loving this movie, only because it seems to have no real point besides “Nick Cave wanted to write an Australian Western”. I don’t have much Western history to compare it to, though… Good/Bad/Ugly, Dead Man, The Unforgiven, Fistful of Dollars… so no comment on its place in the great Western tradition. Little bit of mob-rule in there as the townsfolk find out about the captain’s deal, take younger brother from prison and flog him almost to death. E. Watson participates in that (cuz the brothers raped/killed her friend), then faints from the brutality… later is raped and has husband killed by older brother after he finds out. So it’s a cycle of violence thing (even though older bro planned to kill her husband before he even knew that younger bro had been whipped). Scenes about the aboriginal Australians’ relation with the whites… Gulpilil works for the captain’s men (gets killed), others are captured/enslaved, others attack without warning, spearing Pearce (see below) and some of captain’s men, and getting their heads blown off by older bro. Don’t think there’s much political commentary going on here, just attempts at historical accuracy.
Abandoned the commentary after 30 minutes as Cave & Hillcoat were just alternating between “this scene was really hard to do” and “this actor is brilliant”. The two made a movie in the late 80’s called Ghosts of the Civil Dead and have a comedy coming this year called Death of a Ladies’ Man [note 3 years later: this is probably Death of Bunny Munro, got postponed due to The Road].
Best outcome of the movie: getting on a Nick Cave kick and buying the 2DVD/2CD “Abbatoir Blues Tour” set. The 15-minute music video for “Babe, I’m On Fire”, also directed by John Hillcoat, is almost as good as The Proposition.
Tried to find the least-interlaced screenshots.