The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce (2008)

The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce 2008tt1099204.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce (2008)
  • Rate: 6.6/10 total 395 votes 
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | History | Horror | Western
  • Release Date: 29 December 2008 (Ireland)
  • Filming Location: Central Highlands, Tasmania, Australia
  • Budget: AUD 1,350,000(estimated)
  • Director: Michael James Rowland
  • Stars: Adrian Dunbar, Ciarán McMenamin and Dan Wyllie
  • Original Music By: Roger Mason   
  • Sound Mix: Dolby Digital | Dolby SR
  • Plot Keyword: Priest | Confession | Hobart | Maquarie Harbour | Sydney Australia

Writing Credits By:

    (in alphabetical order)

  • Nial Fulton  written by
  • Michael James Rowland  written by

Known Trivia

  • Lead actors Adrian Dunbar, Ciarán McMenamin and producer/co-writer Nial Fulton were all born in the same town, Enniskillen.
  • Many of the Tasmanian locations featured in the film are part of the actual escape route Alexander Pearce and his fellow convicts took in 1822. The cell scenes in the film were shot in the old Rozelle Hospital in Sydney, which was once an asylum for the clinically insane and for Irish political prisoners.
  • Australian actor Dan Wyllie lost his front teeth in an accident as a child. He allowed the production team to chip a spare set of dentures for his role as Robert Greenhill, the English sailor-convict.
  • Producer Nial Fulton was introduced to the character of Alexander Pearce during a chance meeting with a priest in County Monaghan. The priest gave Fulton a book on the infamous cannibal convict by Australian author Dan Sprod.
  • Convict Alexander Pearce and Catholic priest Philip Conolly both came from the parish of Clones on the County Monaghan / County Fermanagh border. Ciarán McMenamin (Alexander Pearce) and Adrian Dunbar (Philip Conolly) were both born in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh.
  • Alexander Pearce (Ciarán McMenamin) was sentenced to seven years transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) for the theft of six pairs of shoes.
  • Robert Greenhill Dan Wyllie was sentenced to seven years transportation for the theft of his wife’s coat.
  • Despite being commissioned as a documentary, the film was nominated in the Best Drama category at the 2009 Irish Film & Television Awards and 2009 Australian Film Institute Awards.
  • Director Michael James Rowland was reunited with two of the stars of his debut film Lucky Miles, Dan Wyllie and Don Hany.
  • Actors Adrian Dunbar and Martin Jacobs were reunited for the first time in nearly thirty years on the set of The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce. Dunbar and Jacobs met at the Royal Shakespeare Company in London.

Goofs: Continuity: The position of the hood on Pearce's head when is to be hanged changes between when it is first put on (covering down to the bridge of his nose) and when he takes the sacrament (down to his forehead).

Plot: Eight men escape from the most isolated prison on earth. Only one man survives and the story he recounts shocks the British establishment to the core. This story is the last confession of Alexander Pearce. Full summary »  »

Story: In 1824 and the British penal colony of VanDiemen's Land is little more than a living hell. Chained to a wall in the darkness of a Hobart cell, Pearce is visited by Father Connolly,the parish priest of the fledgling colony and a fellow Irishman. The harrowing confession Pearce makes, shocks the priest and the British establishment to the core.Written by Anonymous  


Synopsis: In 1819, two young Irish men travel to the other side of the world. Alexander Pearce, a farm labourer, is sentenced to seven years in the new penal colony of Van Diemens Land. His crime is the theft of six pairs of shoes. Phillip Connolly, a Catholic priest, is sent to administer religious guidance to the damned of Hobart Town, the most isolated settlement on earth.

Within six months, Alexander Pearce has been flogged over 200 times for a variety of misdemenours and finds himself en route to Sarah Island. He is thought beyond salvation and will soon be brutalised, tortured and degraded beyond comprehension. Consumed by thoughts of escape, Pearce quickly falls in with like-minded convicts and the English ex mariner Greenhill. Between them, they hatch an escape plan. Soon eight men crash into the rain-forest with little other than an axe, and a plan to go where no white man has gone before – across the extreme wilderness of Tasmania.

The British authorities doesnt waste time or valuable men pursuing them. They will surely all die within days.

Hunger sets in and quickly the awful decision to eat one of the group is reached. Dalton, the convict flogger is the logical choice. Greenhill slits his throat and the butcher Travers decapitates him. All but two of the group take Dalton’s flesh.

Within weeks only Greenhill and Pearce are left alive. It is nearly 50 days since they escaped. Both men are close to death – and potential freedom. Greenhill is overcome with exhaustion and Pearce seizes the opportunity and murders him.

When Pearce is eventually captured by British authorities he readily confesses his crimes. The magistrate refuses to believe him. Irishman or not, no European could resort to such depravity and Pearce is sent back to Sarah Island to complete the remainder of his sentence.

Within weeks Pearce escapes again with the help of a young English convict Thomas Cox. When the authorities catch up with Pearce, he is lying beside the decimated remains of Cox.

The Commandant of Sarah Island, Lieutenant Cuthbertson extracts the first confession from Pearce and it forms the basis of his subsequent trial. A jury of seven non-commissioned British officers find Alexander Pearce guilty of murder and cannibalism and he is sentenced to death.

During his six months incarcerated in the Hobart Gaol, Alexander Pearce meets Father Phillip Connolly. Both men are from the same part of Ireland and know of each other. In the darkness of the gaol Alexander Pearce confesses everything to Father Connolly. Connollys faith in his God is tested by what he hears.

Alexander Pearce is executed on the 19th July 1824. Under orders from the Judge, his body is dissected for science.

This is the remarkable story of how one man endured the unimaginable by doing the unthinkable.

{tab=FullCast & Crew}

Produced By:

  • Nial Fulton known as producer
  • Chris Hilton known as executive producer
  • Fiona McConaghy known as line producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Adrian Dunbar known as Philip Conolly
  • Ciarán McMenamin known as Alexander Pearce
  • Dan Wyllie known as Robert Greenhill
  • Don Hany known as John Mather
  • Bob Franklin known as Matthew Travers
  • Chris Haywood known as Robert Knopwood
  • Tony Llewellyn-Jones known as William Sorrell
  • Richard Green known as Edward Brown
  • Tony Goodfellow known as Alexander Dalton
  • Peter Dowling known as Thomas Bodenham
  • Matthew Preston known as William Kennerly
  • Martin Jacobs known as John Cuthbertson
  • Bill Young known as Gaoler Bisdee
  • Socratis Otto known as Fine Young British Officer
  • Carl Rush known as Constable Logan
  • Jack Ayeward known as Thomas Cox / Convict (as Jack Aylward)
  • Kelly Butler known as Mrs. Brown
  • Patti Tsarouhis known as Violet Black
  • Stefanie Smith known as Prudence Black (as Stephanie Smith)
  • Gerry Gormley known as Hobart Gazette Reporter
  • Graham Ware known as Hobart Cart Driver
  • Peter Hicks known as Surgeon / Hobart Townsfolk
  • Daryl Watson known as Surgeon's Assistant
  • Peter Foster known as Surly Guard
  • Paul Stewart known as Executioner / British Soldier
  • Justin Griffiths known as Assistant Executioner
  • Nial Fulton known as Execution Guard
  • Michael James Rowland known as Night-watch Man
  • David Fitzgibbon known as British Soldier / Convict
  • Brendan O'Connell known as British Soldier
  • Ross Argent known as British Soldier
  • Matt Russell known as British Soldier
  • Doug Brown known as British Soldier
  • Scott Marriott known as British Soldier
  • David Rauenbusch known as British Soldier
  • Will Sheridan known as Convict Sailor
  • Julian Wilding known as Convict
  • Damon Bird known as Convict
  • Mark Murphy known as Convict
  • Brendan Kays known as Convict
  • Barry Batchelor known as Convict
  • Russell Scott known as Convict
  • Brian Rieusset known as Convict
  • Martin Blackwell known as Convict
  • Beodene Gilham known as Convict
  • Steve Locke known as Convict
  • Stephen Walkley known as Convict
  • Erik Duijn known as Convict
  • Michael Wooley known as Convict
  • Bernard Holdworth known as Convict
  • Rob Leach known as Convict
  • Peter Hopes known as Convict
  • John Hickey known as Convict
  • Kerrod Gorst known as Convict
  • Murrie Harris known as Convict
  • Michael Roberts known as Convict
  • Blake Jasson known as Convict
  • Jake Banning known as Convict
  • Tanya Gilham known as Convict
  • John Andrews known as Convict
  • Adam Randlsey known as Convict
  • Sam Ayeward known as Convict
  • Scott Aylward known as Convict
  • Andrew Matton-Johnson known as Convict
  • Rod Gray known as Convict
  • Raymond Gillie known as Convict
  • Grant Loredo known as Convict
  • Chris Black known as Convict
  • Robert Nicholls known as Convict (as Rob Nicholls)
  • Tim Causer known as Convict
  • Abbey Johnson known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Matilda Johnson known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Barry McAuley known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Owen James known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Fran James known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Jason Chappell known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Mark Power known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Leah Dubrovsky known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Sasha Dubrovsky known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Cynthie Robert known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Jack Roberts known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Halla Phillips known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Ivy Phillips known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Dave Tickle known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Yvonne Tickle known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Steve Seymour known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Janette Seymour known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Melissa Fraser known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Oliver Fraser known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Harrison Fraser known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Lachlan Fraser known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Kerry Huebel known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Lional Fargher known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Lyn Fargher known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Nathalie Cotte known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Max Thompson known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Dean Pomfrett known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Alice Zuhulka known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Ursula Gormley known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Eamon Gormley known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Ronan Gormley known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Chris Hilton known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Claudia Hilton known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Samantha Szillich known as Hobart Townsfolk (as Sammy Szillich)
  • Aline Jacques known as Hobart Townsfolk (as Aline Jaques)
  • Emren Kara known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Dennis Sheridan known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Maddy Whitfield known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Christopher Whitfield known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Elly Brookes known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Gabriella Young known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Lorraine Pickering known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Monica Pickering known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Isabella Pickering known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Scott Pickering known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Louisa Hull known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Phoebe Dubrovsky known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Kai Dubrovsky known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Adam Taor known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Faye Welborn known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Marion Phillips known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Nerida Groth known as Hobart Townsfolk
  • Russell Coit known as Convict
  • Kita Kerford known as Convict
  • Jo McCauley known as Hobart Apple Vendor
  • Lyndsey Smider known as Young Yagan

..{tab=Supporting Department}Makeup Department:

  • Peggy Carter known as makeup artist
  • Marion Phillips known as makeup artist
  • Jessica Seen known as makeup attachment

Art Department:

  • Jane Becker known as scenic artist
  • Owen Buick known as assistant wrangler
  • Ishtar Cavagnino known as art department assistant
  • Justin Griffiths known as art department coordinator
  • Peter Malatesta known as props buyer
  • Peter Malatesta known as set dresser
  • Laki Angelo Sikes known as art department assistant
  • Paul Stewart known as stand-by props
  • Nevill Thomas known as assistant armourer
  • Anne Ware known as assistant wrangler


Production Companies:

  • Essential Media & Entertainment
  • Essential Viewing Group

Other Companies:

  • 2 Dogs Post  post-production facilities
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)  funding
  • Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC)  funding
  • BBC Northern Ireland  funding
  • Bruce Dunlop and Associates  trailer production
  • Collywood Studios  music recording and mixing
  • Film Finances  completion guarantor
  • Management and Staff of the Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel, The  thanks
  • Panavision Australia  camera equipment provided by
  • Radio Telefís Éireann (RTÉ)  funding
  • Screen Tasmania  funding
  • The Eck Factor  publicity


  • Hopscotch Films (2008) (Australia) (all media)
  • RDF Rights (2009) (worldwide) (all media)
  • Roadshow Entertainment (2009) (Australia) (DVD)
  • Roadshow Entertainment (2009) (Australia) (all media)

..{tab=Other Stuff}

Special Effects:

  • Frame, Set & Match

Visual Effects by:

  • Justin Alvarez known as visual effects compositor
  • Dave Cole known as post production supervisor
  • Nial Fulton known as stills photographer
  • Justin Griffiths known as stills photographer
  • Phil Stuart-Jones known as visual effects supervisor
  • Billy Wychgel known as colorist

Release Date:

  • Ireland 29 December 2008
  • Australia 25 January 2009
  • Australia 5 February 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • UK 23 February 2009
  • UK 10 July 2010 (Channel 4 Premiere)


Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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