Western about racial intolerance focuses around Kiowa claim that the Zachary daughter is one of their own, stolen in a raid. The dispute results in other whites turning their backs on the Zacharys when the truth is revealed by Mother. Cash, the hotheaded brother, reacts violently upon learning his "sister" is a "red-hide Indian." He leaves the family but returns to help them fight off an Indian raid. Written by
I can't figure it out. Why does everyone love The Searchers? John Wayne's young sidekick in that film, and his absurd romance, sink the film like a stone. This film, which deals with a number of the same issues - racism, kidnapping, mass slaughter, etc. - treats them with greater seriousness and to better effect.
There's wonderful moral ambiguity to The Unforgiven, an ambiguity which was obviously built into the story from the beginning ... so we need not pat ourselves on the back by rooting for the Indians in this one and thinking of ourselves as so much wiser than the filmmakers. When a lot of Kiowa get killed during the course of the film it is unsettling, partly because one thinks in real life that their fighting tactics would be better, but mostly because it is upsetting to see so much bloodshed.
There are better westerns than this film - Open Range, Valdez is Coming, Destry Rides Again, The Long Riders, The Cowboys - but that doesn't stop The Unforgiven from being a first-rate movie filled with suspense and fascinating characters.
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