00:02:05,400 --> 00:02:07,700
No, please! No! Please!
00:02:08,800 --> 00:02:10,200
00:02:10,600 --> 00:02:12,600
- Come running, lad!
- Please don't!
00:02:14,300 --> 00:02:16,800
- Stop it!
- Brand you like a damn steer!
00:02:17,000 --> 00:02:18,600
- No, please!
00:00:01,800 --> 00:00:05,900
"'You have insulted the honor of
this beautiful woman, Corcoran'...
00:00:05,900 --> 00:00:07,200
...said the Duck.
00:00:08,500 --> 00:00:10,500
'You must apologize.'
00:00:10,700 --> 00:00:13,300
But Two-Gun Corcoran
would none of it.
00:00:13,300 --> 00:00:16,800
Cursing, he reached for his
pistols and would have killed him...
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9/10 "Unforgiven" may well be Clint Eastwood's greatest triumph as an actor and director. In this grim, dark, and yet strangely beautiful story of former gunslinger William Munny (Eastwood), who comes out of retirement for one last job, Eastwood deliberately sets out to demystify the old West. This is evident in the conversations between Munny and the Schofield Kid (Jaimze Wolvett), who has a romanticized image of the old-time gunfighters, and between sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) and hack journalist W.W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek). Yet the "demythologizing" message doesn't feel forced; it is woven effortlessly into a gripping story that powerfully conveys the human cost of violence.2 years ago
Moral ambiguity pervades the film, which has no easy resolutions and no customary clear lines between good and evil. Will and his friend Ned (Morgan Freeman), nominally the heroes, have clearly done many bad things in their lives. When they come to Big Whiskey as hired killers, it is ostensibly for a just cause -- to punish two no-good cowboys who slashed the face of a prostitute. Yet, as we know from the beginning, the version of the attack that is reported to Will and Ned is highly and grotesquely exaggerated. While the cowboys certainly should have been punished, we may legitimately wonder if death is a punishment that fits the crime. The agonizing death of the younger of the two cowboys, who didn't do the slashing and clearly felt bad about what his partner had done, certainly doesn't look like justice.
The ostensible villain, Little Bill, is not just a villain. He is a sheriff determined to preserve law and order in the town. One can't blame him for wanting to keep paid assassins out. In a violent society, there's no way he can do his job without using violence. Unfortunately, he also takes a sadistic pleasure in his brutality -- even though he also seems to want a peaceful, quiet life in the house he's building.
One might say that Munny's heroics in the guns-blazing climax undercut the film's purpose of dismantling the mystique of the Old West and its gunfighters. But the truth is, "Unforgiven" is both an homage to and a deconstruction of that mystique. While Munny acquires almost mythic stature in that scene, his actions are still morally shady, and his exchange with the nerdy Beauchamp quickly dispels the romantic aura. What's more, his "rise" to heroism can also be seen as a fall from grace and a reversion to his old ways.
The film may be just a tad slow at times, but at 2 hrs 10 minutes, it remains nearly always gripping. (As for those IMDB reviewers who've knocked the movie because there are too many scenes where Eastwood's character is weak and pathetic, falling off his horse or getting beat up -- why don't you just go see some Arnold Schwarzenegger flick!) Not only are the principal characters well-developed, but even minor characters come across as real people with individual traits; the credit is due both to the excellent screenplay and to the superb cast. The scenes between Will Munny and Delilah, the prostitute who was slashed, are very touching without being at all "sappy." Eastwood is simply superb as the tortured and self-loathing Munny; Gene Hackman fully matches him as Little Bill; Morgan Freeman exudes a quiet dignity as Ned; Wolvett acquits himself well as "the Kid." Add to this a scene-stealing performance by Richard Harris as the elegant, vicious gunslinger English Bob, and terrific work by Saul Rubinek, Frances Fisher as the prostitute Strawberry Alice, and Anna Levine as Delilah.
"Unforgiven" is a modern classic, a must-see for those who appreciate intelligent, high-quality filmmaking.
A Fitting End
10/10 There may never be another real western. Clint appears to be done with the genre and there really isn't anyone else I can think of that can do it Properly. Sergio Leone is gone. William Wellman is gone. Sam Peckinpah is gone. John Huston is gone. John Ford is gone. Howard Hawks is gone.2 years ago
Kevin Costner tries hard but he just doesn't get it. Dances With Wolves wasn't really a western. It wasn't even an anti-western. It was more like a political indictment of the actions of the Americans of the time. For all that I did enjoy it.
Most of the others since Unforgiven are movies where somebody decides to put the characters on a horse, but the story is just generic pap. Nobody has the balls to make something with a meaning.
I will grant that Deadwood is a truly excellent series but it isn't a movie.
That's why I believe that Unforgiven is a fitting end to the western genre. I won't get all rhapsodic and spout a bunch of crap about how Clint made this movie as a symbol of the end of the western. Cuz that's a load of crap. The script had been around since the early 70s when things were still going strong. What it is, is a movie that shows us that there is no black and white in any time. There are only shades of grey.
It is also just as dirty and violent as things actually were for most people in that era. Life was comparatively cheap and most people didn't have much hope of justice. The middle class was very small and the upper class was tiny. The vast majority belonged to the under-classes.
Good guys didn't wear white hats and not every sheriff was a good guy. Some were violent and corrupt braggarts and bullies. Little Bill mocks English Bob's self-promotion, but at the same time he knocks Bob down he builds himself up. He doesn't bother with courts or judges and he is his own executioner. He isn't motivated by any innate sense of justice when he deals with any criminal elements. It's more that he takes it as an insult to his own power.
William Munny is a killer, plain and simple. He has human feelings but basically he is unrepentant. He changed for his wife, but like many changes it wasn't permanent. He won't sleep with a whore but when he needs money he is willing to kill for it. At the same time he treats the whore with kindness and is loyal to his friend. And somehow he managed to get a good woman to love him. A classic anti-hero.
Rather than being about the end of the Western genre I believe that it is actually an ode to what came before it. Sergio Leone would have been proud.
Eastwood & Hackman shine
9/10 Unforgiven is about as far from the fantasy mythos of A Fistful of Dollars as Clint Eastwood could get. No pin-point accuracy with 19th century technology, no desire to 'play fair' and face the enemy on even terms. If you can shoot him in the back...then do it.2 years ago
Eastwood puts in an astonishing performance as the retired killer Muny, saved from his life of thievery and murder by his late wife. Now, desperately trying to support his children with no income, he is tempted back to his killing ways by the bounty offered by the women of a brothel, one of whom's number has been savagely beaten and disfigured by a drunken ranch-hand.
The film follows Eastwood as he wrestles with his desire to honour his wife's memory and his need to feed his children by returning to the killer that, he fears, is his true nature. Meanwhile word of the bounty has spread and the events spiral out of control as the sheriff (Gene Hackman) deals with the guns for hire that ride into town.
While all the supporting cast are excellent Gene Hackman's Oscar winning performance even manages to eclipse Eastwoods as the brutal Sheriff. He beats one of the bounty hunters, English Bob (Richard Harris) almost to death and then explains to a journalist, in one of the film's stand out scenes, how men like he and Muny are so successful at killing. The mood moves from light banter to life threatening seriousness...and back again, with just one move of his head.
One of the greatest Westerns ever made? Certainly. Although the fact it's a western is really secondary. In truth it's a tale of the nature of evil and the nature of man. Eastwood uses the gap between the western myth and reality as an arena to play out his story and does so with consummate style.
Requiem for a Western
9/10 Unforgiven will always be the last Western. No matter what comes after it, Tombstone, The Missing, or Wyatt Erp, Unforgiven has the final word. Not that I wouldn't characterize those films as Westerns, but the spirit of Unforgiven, from the opening shot of the house with the scrawny tree and lonely grave, to the end which returns there, is imbued with the finality of a spent genre. The feelings evoked are ambivalent and distant, much like the characters within Unforgiven itself. Perhaps Clint Eastwood's genius lies partially in that he doesn't allow for us to mourn. It wouldn't be western to cry because a story-form is over, it wouldn't be leather to empathize for a broken man who doesn't want your sympathy, it wouldn't be spurs to despair about the implacable and corrupt forces of life which turn men like William Munny into killers.2 years ago
Clint Eastwood presents to the audience the most distorted configuration of the western; the most disfigured example of a genre whose classical conventions were untouchable and sacrosanct. We have no heroes and no villains, only a protagonist and a puffed up sheriff who thinks he's doing the right thing (and does in fact have more moral vision than the dried out killer) The movie itself is riddled with identity crises, the killer has turned into a farmer and a father, the young gunslinger is a virgin to bloodletting, the sheriff shows signs of being a slave master, and the innocent one gets it first and gets it dirty. Gone are the days of the Magnificent 7 where one rode into town, rallied the brave cowpokes with shiny silver pistols, and dispatched an easily recognizable enemy. Gone even are the days of Bonnie and Clyde where gunslingers were attractive and fascinating to the audience, exuding flair, charisma, and sparking the imagination. They were legends; William Munny is a sad bit of history. He is presented with deadpan honesty, not as a caricatured Tarantino assassin, or a misunderstood old man who has atoned for past wrongs. He is a broken human person, so lost along the moral frontier that the only compass he can grasp is more killing.
Throughout the movie, we are reminded again and again of the stark contrast Unforgiven stands in to most other Westerns, by the obsequious scribe W. W. Beauchamp. He was the one who wrote the John Wayne stories, (the ones with ethical clarity at least). He was the one who coined phrases like "high-noon" and "hot lead". In Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood, takes apart the classical western narrative piece by piece allowing the audience to inspect the illusion. Characters like English Bob are unscrupulous frauds, ladies in distress are revenge bent whores, and old men really don't ever change for the better. They become that way when sensationalized by hack storytellers like Beauchamp. And when the only character materializes who seems to at least fit the description of gunslinger, Munny is so empty and hopelessly unheroic that we begin to reconcile ourselves to the end of the Western. Where else is there to go? We understand how the old stories were crafted thanks to the insider's view provided by Beauchamp, and what's left is a craggy faced cadaver with a dead wife, a dead friend, and two forgotten children.
Every character within Unforgiven inhabits a gray zone that clouds the audiences's ability to easily categorize them as good or evil. We are forced to come to a more nuanced understanding of each as a human being with redeeming as well as corrupt qualities. The two cowboys committed a horrendous crime by knifing the prostitute, but did they deserve death, especially the young one, who didn't do the knifing, clearly felt remorse, and tried to make a peace offering? The whores are right to demand justice, but do they ever take into account the wishes of the victim, who if anything seems to strike some romantic sparks with the young cowboy. By the film's end, they are bloodthirsty sirens screaming at the body of the dead young cowboy. The sheriff Little Bill, compounds the opening crime by allowing it to go unpunished, but later exposes English Bob and tries to keep people from getting killed--(is he protecting unrepentant criminals, or is he allowing old wounds to heal?) And of course there's Munny himself, who won't pay to touch a woman but will kill prolifically for a purpose that is murky at best.
By Unforgiven's end, the audience feels alienated from characters and message. The conclusion of William Munny's life is narrated by a cold, impersonal voice that labels him a scoundrel, but doesn't care enough to waste much breath condemning him. We are left with the image of the homestead, the center and heart of the Western film, where man attempted to master the wildness within his environment and himself. This house is empty and abandoned, its only companion the forlorn grave memorializing a genre which has passed away.
'A Man With No Name' Becomes 'A Man With A Real Story'.
8/10 Clint Eastwood's storytelling gives the western genre one of its most sublime story's. Gone is the trademark mysterious hero and in its place is an ex gunman who made his peace when he met his wife. Eastwood has transcended traditional entertainment to storytelling craftsmanship. He delivers rich characters with deep rooted problems inextricably linked to the villains of the story. Refusing to wither and die away, style has been perfectly adapted with age thus ensuring his maturation into a true Hollywood legend.2 years ago
Besides his now distinctive storytelling, there are numerous factors that make this a landmark Western. The ensemble cast could not have been stronger and there were no weak performances. The soundtrack accentuates the intended atmosphere of the director. A single detracting factor I could find only just qualifies as such. Munny's whimsical lines seemed a little contrived at times. They droned on like pale attempts to capture the Western era. But this is a consequence of the fact that they were more to do with the character of William Munny. He is after all a reformed killer with a now passive approach to people. Given this fact and also that it may have been distracting since it was so out of sync with what we are used to seeing from Eastwood, I still have to list it as a demerit on the account it slightly jerked me out of the story.
Hollywood producers have to satisfy audience preferences if investments are going to accrue profits. It is the nature of the beast. The action and more specifically the Western genre will stick to tried and tested formulas in order to guarantee audience acceptance. But every so often you get people who as a natural consequence of their unique character appeal are able to deliver a story that is outside these understandably restrictive boundaries. Eastwood is a cool individualist who normally plays characters who are not team players and do it their own way. His own way this time is to give the western genre a real story oozing characterization. A sort of ballad for the bad guy.
The ballads tune provides the story with a sad, introspective mood, within the opening and closing scenes. The opening scene depicts Munny in his new found life. He is cured of his wicked ways, helped by his dear, departed wife. But men are not willing to forgive or forget his monstrous deeds and in the final scenes he is who he has to be. Such is the sorrowful life of William Munny.
Westerns are typified by clearly defined goodies and baddies, but this is definitely not the case here. Eastwood and Freeman play reformed killers who find circumstances drawing them once again to their evil ways. But the older and wiser men now realize the value of life and come face to face with their troubled consciences. This is unlike their naive, young partner who is attracted to the bravado image of the killer and relishes taking a man's life. This moral issue is virtually taboo for the classic western which glamorizes the lawlessness and the hero attraction of the gunslinger. This is also why in my view no-one besides Eastwood should have handled this movie.
Then we have the juiciest character of the movie superbly played by Gene Hackman worthy of the weight of every micro granule of his Oscar. He is the epitome of every hard-line lawman that ever was. The misguidance of the so called righteously empowered, swinging the hammer against evil for good. Hackman must have salivated when he read the script since there was obvious relish in his performance. All the better for the movie, and of course for Eastwood at the Oscars. By far the best performance and the others were good further underlining the talent of the man.
The antagonist of the movie is almost always the most complex and thus most interesting to analyze. His vain attempts at carpentry are his way of trying to appear to be a good man. There is purity in building ones own home and it is this wholesomeness that he wishes to capture. In that way his fellow citizens will see him as a simple man only wanting to lead a righteous life. But his inability as a carpenter is indicative of his depravity. He cannot be a good man. The source of his drive is anger and hatred. It is through this failing that we realize he cannot escape who he is.
Indeed it was not only the power of the script that gave the audience a spellbinding climax, but the talents of the actors. The actors' characterizations deliver the audience a spellbinding climax. It is only through Hackman's performance that we not only acknowledge his ending as inevitable, but also as deserving. We saw him as a man who virtually thought that he was righteously empowered to rid the earth of Munny and his kind What he thought was an honorable task was one rather of abuse and suppression. He became the baddie in the eyes of the audience and it is he who the audience wants to see justice served upon.
Munny was so weak throughout the movie that the eruption of his evil ways captured the interest of the audience. He transformed into the Eastwood of old the anti hero with a far more malevolent presence. Never could we have sensed this hatred and evil that we now see in William Munny. It is now that the frivolity of his mannerisms that I touched on in the beginning adds to the story as it helps to accentuate the turn in character. He is now only a killer, in it neither for money or fame as the writer nearly finds out to his tragic detriment.
Those who have only seen his Westerns of old or the 'Dirty Harry' movies may enter the cinema with expectations of such like will either be disappointed or pleasantly surprised. It is the atypical western and an unfamiliar portrayal by Eastwood. But I believe that most people will have the latter reaction. The differences are their strengths helped by the fact that it was a superbly crafted movie with a meaningful story and thought provoking lessons for our heroes and villains. Eastwood was directly suited to the roles that we identify him with, but it is exactly because of this suitability that he eases into the role of Munny. No mellowing with age, no identification with the mainstream, he has always done it his way, and he is so good that any way could be his way.