After escaping death by the skin of her teeth, the horribly disfigured prostitute, Delilah Fitzgerald, and her appalled and equally furious co-workers summon up the courage to seek retribution in 1880s Wyoming's dangerous town of Big Whiskey. With a hefty bounty on the perpetrators' heads, triggered by the tough Sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett's insufficient sense of justice, the infamous former outlaw and now destitute Kansas hog farmer, William Munny, embarks on a murderous last mission to find the men behind the hideous crime. Along with his old partner-in-crime, Ned Logan, and the brash but inexperienced young gunman, the "Schofield Kid", Munny enters a perilous world he has renounced many years ago, knowing that he walks right into a deadly trap; however, he still needs to find a way to raise his motherless children. Now, blood demands blood. Who is the hero, and who is the villain?Written by
Although abbreviated in the film, in the script Claudia's grave marker reads "CLAUDIA FEATHERS MUNNY Born, March 11, 1849 Died, August 6, 1878, aged 29 years, in the full enjoyment of that love which constrained her to leave all for Christ and heathen souls
Lo, we have left all and followed thee: What shall we leave therefore. 19:25" See more »
Several times during the film Ned Logan's Spencer is referred to as a RIFLE, when it is obviously a CARBINE. See more »
At the end of the credits, there is caption reading, "Dedicated to Sergio and Don". This is a reference to late directors Sergio Leone (who directed Clint Eastwood in the Dollars trilogy) and Don Siegel (who directed Eastwood in Dirty Harry and Escape from Alcatraz). See more »
That's right. I'm just a fella now. I ain't no different than anyone else no more.
William Munny (Clint Eastwood taking the lead and directing the piece) is an old and retired gunman whose past misdemeanours would make the devil himself seem tame. Widowed and struggling to raise his two children on a paltry farm, he's tempted out of retirement for one last pay dirt job, the consequence of which provides violence - both physically and of the soul.
Clint Eastwood signed off from the Western genre with this magnificent 1992 picture, the appropriation and irony of which is in itself a majestic point of reference. After the script had been knocking around for nigh on twenty years (written by Blade Runner scribe David Webb Peoples), Eastwood seized the opportunity to play William Munney and lay bare the mythologies of the Wild West.
It's striking that the makers here have lured us in to being firmly on Munney's side, we are, incredibly, influenced by Eastwood's part in the history of the Western. In spite of Munney's obvious murky past (despicable crimes they be), we wait (and hope) for Munney to make a quip and way lay the bad guys - in fact salivating at the prospect is probably closer to the truth. So it's with enormous credit that Eastwood, and his magnificent cast and crew, manage to fuddle all our respective perceptions of the West and the characters we ourselves have aged with.
It's not for nothing that W.W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek) is one of the critical characters on show, this even though we didn't expect that to be the case. Beauchamp is a writer of penny pulpy novels that tell of derring-do heroics, gunslingers with a glint in their eye who deal death as some sort of heroic encore. This gives Unforgiven an excellent sleight of hand, for this West is grim and a destroyer of all illusions and it's not controversial to say that this is indeed a good thing.
Eastwood is greatly served by the actors around him, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman (winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for a script he turned down many years before!), Rubinek, Frances Fisher, Anna Thomson, Jaimz Woolvett and an incredible cameo from Richard Harris. Along with Hackman's win for his brutally tough portrayal of Sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett, Unforgiven also won Oscars for Eastwood for his clinically tight direction, Best Picture, Best Editing and it was nominated in another five categories. One of those nominations was for Jack Green's cinematography, which now, in this age of High Definition enhanced cinema, can be seen in all its wonderful glory. The Alberta location is magically transformed into the Western frontier, with the orange and brown hues a real treat for the eyes.
Ultimately though, Unforgiven is a lesson in adroit film making, where across the board it works so well. Why? Well because the man at the helm knows this genre inside out, he was after all the sole flag bearer for practically 25 years. He learnt from his peers, and thus Eastwood has crafted a thematically complex piece that for all its violence, debunking and melancholy pulse beats, is a film that is as beautiful as it is most assuredly stark. An incredible and true highlight of modern day cinema, regardless of being a genre fan or not. 10/10
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