The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce (2008) Poster

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
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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.


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



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)



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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Posted on March 30, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , , , , .


  1. Geraldine Zechner from Clones, Ireland
    30 Mar 2012, 8:41 pm

    The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce blew me away… it is by farthe most intense piece I've seen in ages. Not in the least gruesome orhard to watch – on the contrary, it is beautifully shot and paced, witha haunting soundtrack and scenery out of this world. You could haveheard a pin drop at the preview screening at Clones Film Festival thisyear. Excellent performances from Ciaran McMenamin, Adrian Dunbar andthe rest of the cast. And a true story of complete desperation at theend of the world. The last taboo…. I couldn't decide if the filmshould have been longer or if I'd seen enough after barely an hour. Ibelieve the latter to be the case – it packs such a punch in such ashort time and is so well edited that it's job is well and truly done.

  2. vincero from Australia
    30 Mar 2012, 8:41 pm

    Alexander Pearce was not a hero, he was not a character that youimmediately feel sorry for; but he was a man who lived in the mostdesolate penal colony in Australia. A man driven to escape from thecruelty he endured. A man who yearned for his freedom and would doanything to survive the harshness of his surrounds. The documentary iscleverly driven by narration from the man who he confessed to, aCatholic priest and fellow Irishman. It captures the ruggedness of thebush, the desperation of the human condition and the cruel andbarbarous English occupation of Tasmania. The Last Confession ofAlexander Pearce is a well paced, well told and captivating confessionof cannibalism.

  3. jonathan-842 from Australia
    30 Mar 2012, 8:41 pm

    This is the story of Alexander Pearce, an Irish Convict taken toAustralia by the British.

    The story is a gripping tale about survival and hunger amongst a groupof convicts.

    A story that will surely make one sit back and wonder if they would dothe same thing given the same circumstances.

    The story of Alexander Pearce will have you stuck to your seat, but atthe same time, may have you running for the nearest bathroom.

    A truly fascinating and well acted story.


  4. jmoissen from Norway
    30 Mar 2012, 8:41 pm

    Great story and well told, with good actors and good cinematography.

    We all think that we are not capable of such monstrous acts, but TheLast Confession of Alexander Pierce might have you think otherwise. Itattempts to show how an Irish thief came to be a cannibal, and in myopinion it succeeds. It depicts how Man can, given the right(wrong)circumstances, is able to stoop into the lowest regions of the humanmind. Given that it is a true story gives it credibility. At least Iwas left with the thought that had it been me, I might have done thesame thing. It is very short though, just an hour long but still wellworth the watch.

  5. Jizdenky from Fraggle Rock
    30 Mar 2012, 8:41 pm

    'The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce' depicts a horrific accountbased on the confession of a petty Irish thief. The movie is just abouta mere hour long (pretty tight editing!) and yet it leaves the viewerwith an unsettling feeling. Filmed beautifully, the natural Tasmanianlandscape looks stunning, isolated, unfriendly and unsympathetic. Itstill astonished me how the characters were driven to participate insuch heinous acts. The way it starts by them selecting the youngestmember, sends a chill down the spine. Could their criminal past havingsomething to do with the decision-making? Did their time in prisoncause them to become savages? Was it all just hunger driven? Somequestions also arise as to why Mather didn't kill Greenhill when he hadthe chance (since Greenhill clearly intended to finish him off)? Whydidn't Pearce and Mather run their separate ways any sooner? The use ofnot-so-well known actors gives it less of a typical movie-like feel.All the actors look and act authentic. Dunbar and Mcmenamin arebrilliant in the conversational scene. Given the short running time, Iwas surprised as to how quickly it finished and wished it was longer.However I doubt whether it would have been as effective.

  6. Rox73
    30 Mar 2012, 8:41 pm

    This movie shows us all what we already know deep down. No one canjudge someone else's actions unless he or she has been in the samesituation. That's why people should always be careful when claiming "Icould/would never do *whatever action*". I can't agree more with PhilipConolly's words:

    "The world is always easier understood held at a distance with tales ofmonsters and the like." and "A full belly is prerequisite to all mannerof good. Without that no man knows what hunger will make him do."

    Beautiful nature shots, good music, great acting, great story. It'srather short though but isn't that just the charming Irish, strong,silent type way of doing things? :)

    Definitely recommended.

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