Shootout At High Noon Marathon: Rebuttal: The Proposition (2005)

The Shootout At High Noon Marathon brings about more of me laying the smack down on Edgar, oh yeah!

Remember folks, to follow along with the conversation make sure you first go and read Edgar’s review of The Proposition at his blog, Between The Seats.

Edgar, Edgar, Edgar, what will I ever do with you? Even when we agree that a movie is of a certain quality, we disagree on how it goes about coming to that level of quality. Clearly the problem is not on my end. I mean, I’m never wrong so there’s no way that I could be the root of this discrepancy. Shape up Edgar, start seeing things my way, you know it’s the only way to see things. You might say that my way is the right way, as a bonus this would solve one of your major problems, being a Montreal Canadiens fan! I kid, I kid, I’m a Chicago Cubs fan, I can’t deride anyone for their fandom.

Your first point of contention isn’t really a point of contention. Interestingly enough what you found curious about The Proposition, it’s complete lack of Australians, I found to be one of the major strengths of the films underlying themes. The Proposition is about the inability to tame the West, the lack of civility found in the desolate landscape of the film. The Irish and Englishmen we see in The Proposition are invaders to the land, they don’t belong and all those who do belong have been pushed to the side. What you view as a curiosity is integral to how I read the film.

I was all ready to explain to you how The Proposition doesn’t fall back on trademarks of the Western genre, but I’m not sure exactly what point you were making in that paragraph. You started off with the trademark statement, but I didn’t see how you followed up on that statement. Perhaps you could flesh out for me what you meant with that statement? I agree with the rest of that paragraph, about myth building. I never touched on that in my review, but John Hillcoat and Nick Cave do a tremendous job of making the Burns brothers bigger than the land they inhabit.

Again, I agree with your next bit of dialogue regarding Captain Stanley and his wife. I too, enjoyed (that may not be the right word, but I hope you know what I mean) their relationship and getting to know their characters. I think the only difference that I bring to the table is that I felt they were given just the right amount of on screen time. We get to know them, we get to see how they play into the themes, but they stay just out of reach, which is indispensable to the larger theme of isolation that The Proposition tackles. More on that in a second…

You think the character of Charlie Burns is empty, and I agree. You think this is a fault of the film, and I disagree. I think Charlie is purposefully empty as a character. He has just enough elements tossed into his being to make him interesting on his own. The catch is that we are Charlie and thus he needs to be emptier than someone like Captain Stanley or Arthur Burns. He needs that empty space so we can pour ourselves into him and fully grasp the isolation and viciousness of the world he inhabits. Charlie is the way that we can take in the themes and not feel completely detached from what we are seeing. Where you see emptiness, I see a man who is fueled by the emptiness of the land around him and serves as a vehicle for my interest in said land.

To close out this rebuttal, I also agree with you in regards to the violence. There’s not much to say about that topic, I think the violence was perfectly executed to perpetuate the vileness of the film and its characters. I think the biggest difference between the way the two of us read the film comes down to characters versus atmospheric experience. You latched on to the characters because of the characters they were. I latched on to the characters because of how well they were able to further the atmosphere supplied by the direction, writing, score, and cinematography. I get the sense that The Proposition was more of a traditional film experience for you. For me it was an otherworldly experience, and that makes all the difference in how one reads the film methinks. Either way, chalk up another win for good ole Bill as I continue to dominate the rebuttals. Absolutely dominate, but would you expect anything less from a match-up pitting a Canadiens fan versus a Red Wings fan?

See what Edgar had to say about my review at his site, Between The Seats.

Cheers,
Bill

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4 responses to “Shootout At High Noon Marathon: Rebuttal: The Proposition (2005)

  1. About the absence of Australian, you’re right that it wasn’t meant as a criticism. Merely an observation, as in ‘Ay mate, where are all the faucking Australians?!?’

    My comments about The Proposition abiding by certain western traditions was somewhat loosely built, I admit that. What I tried to get at was the notion that many classical westerns have larger than life characters, be they the villains the villains or the heroes. There is often a sense historical behind the Burns brothers, which added a lot of weight to their story. It felt like a ‘big’ story about ‘big’ characters, something I think is often associated with westerns.

    Where you feel Charlie had to empty so you could pour yourself into him and his situation, I needed something to pour myself into him and his situation. That is, truthfully, how I can pour myself into characters: when there is something to build on. If there isn’t anything or very little, that’s when I have trouble latching on.

  2. I get what you meant by traditional Western now. I agree in a sense, but I think that’s more classic mythic storytelling, but this is a game of semantics methinks.

    I guess I’m different, I can latch on to a character who has something to build on or who is empty to begin with. It depends on the film and how the director and writer handle the material.

  3. Pingback: Shootout At High Noon Marathon: The Wild Wild West Need Not Apply Awards | Bill's Movie Emporium

  4. Pingback: Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) | Bill's Movie Emporium

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