According to the publicity material, The Decadent and Depraved is Western Australia’s biggest ever independent film, and although the sometimes fractious WA film community will probably take that claim to task before long (“By what metric?”), Axel August and Jordan Prince-Wright’s dusty Western has had a pretty good innings, filling two mega-stadium theatres for its December 2017 premiere, and handily picking up a slew of gongs at the Los Angeles film awards, including Best Indie Feature Film and Best Actor, and the New York Film Awards, including Best Narrative Feature and Best Actor.
So what’s it about?
“The Decadent and Depraved is set in the late 1880s in a remote and dark place in the outback of Western Australia telling the story of Leon Murphy (Ben Mortley) who leaves his wife and child in a bid to ensure their safety. He is a wanted man but plans to surrender himself into the hands of Her Majesty’s army to be hanged.
“Unbeknownst to Leon, shortly after his departure his wife is murdered in cold blood. Moreover, their daughter Lillian (Isabella Jacqueline) is captured by a bunch of evil bounty hunters, led by the cruel and gruesome priest, Maitland (Steve Turner).
“A tale of cat and mouse begins shortly thereafter as Leon is transported by Police Captain Dalton (Michael Muntz), on route to be hanged in the local town. Dalton’s hopes for a trouble-free journey are quickly dashed as he is faced with a series of difficult obstacles – all consequences of transporting such a high value target.
“Within the ever-changing terrain of Western Australia, the truth about Leon’s crime and his motives for seeking punishment is revealed, leading everyone through a chaotic tumble of revenge and murder.”
In a director’s statement, August and Prince Wright said, “We have made the unprecedented move to transform Western Australia’s gritty western-style past into a feature film. Watching the original western flicks as kids, our aim was to preserve the traditional filmmaking approach as much as possible and minimise the need for technological tricks such as CGI; without forgoing our ability to ‘wow’ contemporary audiences. Instead, the cast and crew filmed in the locations that inspired the fictional West Australian towns in which the story is set. And whilst The Decadent and Depraved pays homage to both the traditional Western film and the true history of our state in the 1880s, it also pushes the boundaries of both the genre and ‘historical accuracy’ to create something unique and riveting.”
Regional WA audiences can check out the final product on Wednesday, August 29, at Orana Cinemas in Albany, Busselton, Kalgoorlie, and Geraldton – head over to the official site for info and tickets.