From The Proposition
The following two extracts are from Nick Cave’s shooting script for The Proposition (2005), John Hillcoat’s drama about Australia’s violent colonial history. The plot concerns the proposition given (in the first extract) by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) to Charlie (Guy Pearce): to free his young brother, Mikey (Richard Wilson), from jail and pardon him of crimes, Charlie must find and kill his older brother, the vicious Arthur (Danny Huston). The second extract, from later in the film, is a scene involving Charlie’s uneasy reintegration into Arthur’s gang.
STANLEY at the window.
STANLEY turns to CHARLIE BURNS.
CHARLIE BURNS leans forward.
(Outback ext’s DELETED. DIALOGUE continuous with Scene 5.)
(Scene now continuous with Scenes 5 and 6).
CHARLIE BURNS drops his manacled hands on the table. They clank loudly. STANLEY turns, draws from his reverie.
STANLEY waves his hands at CHARLIE BURNS dismissively. He returns to his chair and sits down facing the two captives. He looks tired.
STANLEY turns to MIKE BURNS, who is whimpering.
There is a long silence.
CHARLIE BURNS, on horseback, moves slowly through the barren landscape. The earth is parched, cracked. Strange, twisted gum trees dot the sparse terrain. The sky is vast and cloudless, a merciless sun hammers down.
CHARLIE BURNS stops and looks off to the East and the town of Banyon, away in the distance. Flocks of bright birds thunder from the trees. CHARLIE BURNS flexes his crudely bandaged hand and moves off.
The HUNTING PARTY led by STANLEY: PATRICK HOPKINS, SERGEANT LAWRENCE, OFFICERS DUNN and MATTHEWS, JACKO and a WAGON DRIVER watch the TWO ABORIGINAL TROOPERS finish filling the huge hole.
SERGEANT LAWRENCE spits onto the grave, grunts, then turns and heads towards the Japanese shack, leaving PATRICK HOPKINS staring at the fresh mound of earth.
CAPTAIN STANLEY sits alone at the table. CHARLIE BURNS, MIKE BURNS, and the dead BUSHRANGERS are gone. STANLEY rubs his temples, his face grim. He reaches into his jacket and produces a flask of liquor and a small paper envelope of headache powder, throws his head back, empties the contents into his mouth, and washes it down with the liquor. He drinks deeply. At that moment SERGEANT LAWRENCE enters.
STANLEY puts the flask back into his pocket.
STANLEY looks up at SERGEANT LAWRENCE with loathing.
STANLEY moves past SERGEANT LAWRENCE and exits. SERGEANT LAWRENCE follows.
STANLEY’S HUNTING PARTY escort an iron cage mounted on a wagon. STANLEY leads. PATRICK HOPKINS, pale and drawn, stares down at MIKE BURNS in the cage. MIKE BURNS crouches like a wounded animal, rigid with fear, bloody faced. JOHN GORDON is slumped against the bars opposite him, glassy-eyed, shallow breathing. MIKE BURNS stares at him in horror. The sun beats down.
CHARLIE BURNS quickens his horse up a steep incline, leaning forward in the saddle, rocks crumbling under the horse’s hooves. At the top of the hill, CHARLIE BURNS dismounts and gazes out over the magnificent spectacle before his eyes – the sun setting and casting the great dead expanse in gold.
CHARLIE BURNS sees a small, isolated homestead way down in the distance. The farmhouse is black.
C/U of CHARLIE BURNS’ face. His eyes are cold and he brings his hands up to his face. His manacles clank.
STANLEY moves forward in his chair and looks into CHARLIE BURNS’ eyes.
CHARLIE BURNS stands in the mouth of the cave. JELLON LAMB peers out behind CHARLIE BURNS. He casts a steady eye across the camp and at the surrounding area. A short distance away, SAMUEL STOAT, bound in a similar way to CHARLIE BURNS, lies propped against a log by the embers of the fire. His feet are bound and he is gagged. He has a large purple welt on his forehead. His face is scarlet with fury and frustration and his eyes are wide in his head. When he sees CHARLIE BURNS he begins to struggle furiously, but, confounded by his bonds, gives up. JELLON LAMB nudges CHARLIE BURNS forward.
They move into the camp, JELLON LAMB keeping close behind CHARLIE BURNS. As they reach the log and the campfire, SAMUEL STOAT begins to growl and kick his legs in a paroxysm of impotent rage. Neither CHARLIE BURNS or JELLON LAMB acknowledge his presence.
CHARLIE BURNS sits down on the log. Two dogs trot over and sniff at JELLON LAMB.
A gunshot cracks in the distance.
JELLON LAMB sits down beside CHARLIE BURNS. CHARLIE BURNS lowers his head away from JELLON LAMB. JELLON LAMB opens and closes his mouth like a fish. CHARLIE BURNS keeps his head inclined. SAMUEL STOAT is rigid, his eyes agape. A red stain spreads across JELLON LAMB’S stomach. After a time a large dark shadow falls across them.
Slowly CHARLIE BURNS’ hands fall free. The noose hangs limp, around his neck. SAMUEL STOAT struggles with his bonds, looking imploringly at ARTHUR BURNS, then at TWO BOB. ARTHUR BURNS ignores him. TWO BOB sneers and walks away.
JELLON LAMB, still sitting on the log, moves his body forward then jerks suddenly upward. His eyes are glazed.
JELLON LAMB coughs, a bubble of blood foaming in his mouth. ARTHUR BURNS squats down and looks at JELLON LAMB.
ARTHUR BURNS stands and pushes JELLON LAMB backwards, off the log, with his great, booted foot. JELLON LAMB lies in the dust on his back, his bloody breaths come shallow and insufficient.
ARTHUR BURNS swings around and holds the machete out to CHARLIE BURNS.
CHARLIE BURNS regards the machete. He does not take it.
ARTHUR BURNS in one dramatic motion drops down to straddle JELLON LAMB. ARTHUR BURNS pushes his machete slowly into JELLON LAMB’S chest and twists. JELLON LAMB shrieks.
CHARLIE BURNS stands. He has picked up Jellon Lamb's pistol in his hand and points it at ARTHUR BURNS.
ARTHUR BURNS twists the blade in JELLON LAMB again.
ARTHUR BURNS stares back at his brother, the machete resting inside JELLON LAMB. CHARLIE BURNS’s gun arm trembles.
© autonomous and UK Film Council 2001. Cannot be reprinted without permission.