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29 Things We Learned From ‘The Proposition’ Commentary

By  · Published on May 31st, 2012

You see, Ray Winstone plays Captain Stanley – and delivers an amazing monologue – in The Proposition, but he’s also one of the dwarfs in this Friday’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Yes, that is a stretch, and it’s not the real reason we decided to cover The Proposition in this week’s Commentary Commentary.

It’s the John Hillcoat connection. It’s the fact that the director’s latest, Lawless, played Cannes last week and guess who saw it. We can all torch Simon out of jealousy later. There’s a commentary to get to first.

The Proposition, a Western set against the Australian backdrop and a very realistic depiction of life at that time, was Hillcoat’s first feature film collaboration with Nick Cave, singer, songwriter, screenwriter, rustic harbinger of death. Friends call him Nicky. The film is every bit as somber and depressing as you would expect from the head of the Bad Seeds. The Proposition is so melancholic, you half expect Lars Von Trier to throw a planet in its general direction. You also can’t wait to see what went on with the making of this movie. And that’s where we come in.

So sit back, crack open a Foster’s – which no decent Australian would be caught dead drinking. – and have a gander at all the wonderfully tenebrous and fly-ridden items we learned from listening to Hillcoat and Cave talk about The Proposition.

The Proposition (2006)

commentators: John Hillcoat (director), Nick Cave (writer), lots and lots of flies

Best in Commentary

“I wanted to make the violence very real, abrupt and messy and quick. It’s all about how the aftermath, how these wounds can take centuries to heal. How frontiers as nations are built on carnage.” – John Hillcoat

“Our film isn’t violent.” – John Hillcoat

Final Thoughts

As interesting as The Proposition is, this commentary from John Hillcoat and Nick Cave isn’t so much. Hillcoat makes a genuine effort, trying to weed out anecdotes from set and overall thoughts of filming in the Australian Outback. He goes back to mentioning the heat more than a few times and talks about the attempt at authenticity throughout. Cave, on the other hand, is only focused on the music. It would be fine, but much of his contribution is made up of the songwriter saying, “Good music here” or something to that effect.

The sync issue doesn’t end up being all that big of a problem. There are instances where Hillcoat or Cave talk about something specific right when it happens, and you don’t know what they’re referring to. It’s not a big flaw in the commentary, though. Being able to hear the film through their microphones 12 seconds behind where you’re at throws you off here and there.

But all in all, the commentary just isn’t very interesting. Hillcoat commenting with someone else, possibly an actor or production designer on the film, might draw out something far more engaging. Cave, on the other hand, should just steer clear of commentaries altogether. He’s a damn good musician. He’s a fine screenwriter. As a commentator, he’s the opposite of fascinating.

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