"Australia ... What fresh hell is this?"
When Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) utters these words in 'The Proposition,' he's staring over the arid wasteland of Australia in the late 19th century. His words speak to the land he must now live in and "civilize." It reflects the new techniques he must employ to capture the murderous Burns brothers. But it also speaks to the sheer beauty of the film.
By all accounts, 'The Proposition' is hell. It's dark, violent, and almost completely without hope. The people who live on that screen are dirty, helpless, fly-ridden, and morally strangled. Yet the film feels not only fresh, but beautiful. From that first moment we see the full landscape, Arthur Burns (Danny Huston) standing on the mountain and looking out over the arid land, the film becomes a harsh, yet stunning, moving painting. Every moment being carefully selected to juxtapose beauty with misery, just as 'Requiem for a Dream,' which preceded it.