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Unforgiven Movie Review

clint eastwood film gene

1992 – Clint Eastwood –

“You ain't ugly like me,” Will Munny (Clint Eastwood) says gently to Delilah (Anna Thomson), a prostitute whose face is covered with stitches from a slashing by a customer, “it's just that we both got scars.” In Unforgiven, physical scars aplenty are present, but it's the emotional and spiritual scars that disturb the deepest. The prostitutes of Big Whisky have come up with $1,000 dollars to pay anyone who takes revenge on the two men who cut Delilah. The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) has heard stories about the bloodthirstiness of Will Munny as a gunslinger; the Kid finds Will on his pig farm in Kansas and asks him to be his partner in revenging Delilah. Will first tells the Kid that his dead wife has reformed him from his violent ways, but the need to provide for his two young children eventually leads him to ask his friend Ned (Morgan Freeman) to accompany him to Big Whisky. Meanwhile, the sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman) has thrashed to near unconscious anyone who tries to accept the women's offer, and English Bob (Richard Harris), the famous gun who comes to town with his biographer (Saul Rubinek) in tow, is brutally beaten and jailed.

Few if any mainstream popular films have the sense of moral doom that pervades Unforgiven. The only character who seemingly is not described by the title is the deceased wife. Furthermore, the film bristles with disturbing ironies: Will wants to be a good man and honor the memory of his wife, but as an inept farmer and a remote father, Will is really only good at killing. The sense of purging and release that comes to him when he again practices this skill deepens and complicates a man whose soul troubles him but who has nevertheless again found his calling. We see other characters—especially the sadistic sheriff—who are just as cruel and bloody but who are completely untroubled by the moral or spiritual implications of their acts. The film parts company with most westerns by taking a staple of the genre that is usually accepted unthinkingly and showing the emotional and spiritual price attached to killing, which in Unforgiven is something that chips away resolutely at one's soul.

The rich gloom of the film can be measured partly in Will's friend Ned. When he has one of Delilah's attackers at his mercy, Ned finds that he can't pull the trigger. He next tries to absolve himself of bounty hunting and return home, but some townsmen find him and turn him over to Little Bill, who whips him to death. Part of the power of the film lies in the pitilessness of its cause-effect: Ned's attempt to obey his conscience leads only to his death, which prompts Will to return to town to confront Little Bill and his deputies. This gives Will a wholeness and certainty he has lacked, but it cannot assuage the ache in his soul. Christianity teaches that all people are redeemable, but religion seldom dwells on what this dark, meditative, and profound motion picture finds most fascinating: the enormous difficulty of becoming one of the forgiven.

Cast: Clint Eastwood (William Munny), Morgan Freeman (Ned Logan), Gene Hackman (Little Bill Doggett), Richard Harris (English Bob), Jaimz Woolvett (the “Schofield Kid”), Saul Rubinek (W.W. Beauchamp), Frances Fisher (Strawberry Alice), Anna Thomson (Delilah Fitzgerald), David Mucci (Quick Mike), Rob Campbell (Davey Bunting), Anthony James (Skinny Dubois), Tara Dawn Frederick (Little Sue), Beverley Elliott (Silky), Lisa Repo-Martell (Faith), Josie Smith (Crow Creek Kate) Screenwriter: David Webb Peoples Cinematographer: Jack N. Green Composer: Lennie Niehaus Producer: Clint Eastwood for Warner Bros MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 130 minutes Format: VHS, LV, DVD Awards: Academy Award, 1992: Director (Clint Eastwood), Editing, Picture, Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman); Nominations: Actor (Clint Eastwood), Art Direction/Set Decoration, Cinematography, Original Screenplay, Sound; British Academy Awards, 1992: Director (Clint Eastwood), Film, Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman); Directors Guild of America Awards, 1992: Director (Clint Eastman); Golden Globe Awards, 1993: Director (Clint Eastwood), Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman); Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, 1992: Actor (Clint Eastwood), Director (Clint Eastwood), Film, Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman); New York Film Critics Awards, 1992: Director (Clint Eastwood), Film, Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman) Box Office: $101M (domestic gross).

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