This film tells a story in a rather indirect way. From the prologue, which tells us about a comely and virtuous woman who marries a violent and angry man, we don't quite know where we are.
Then we see a gruesome attack of a prostitute and some rather unexpected summary justice from Little Bill (Gene Hackman). From this point onwards, the story, and the characters, tilt one way and the other. You like Little Bill, but he takes things too far. You like the Eastwood character, but you can't entirely forgive him, and you can see him sliding downwards.
The action has lingered with me for several days. What does this film have to say about hellraisers? What am I to make of the amazing denouement? Is there any justice in the ending?
Looking back there are scenes that you remember, like the mythical gunslinger missing a simple target over and over again, or Little Bill and his hopeless roof-building. The details ornament the story in delightful ways.
It's an absorbing film which confronts you with much complexity. Should law enforcers make examples of people? Do light punishments cause greater troubles? How do mythologies influence our actions? This is a very special film.
on 28 January 2005
Clint Eastwood dedicated his Western masterpiece Unforgiven "...to Sergio and Don." (Sergio Leone and Don Siegel) This was an entirely fitting tribute to the two directors who probably had the greatest impact on Eastwood's career. Leone, of course, cast Eastwood as The Man With No Name in the Dollars trilogy, whereas Siegel directed Eastwood in his other iconic role of Dirty Harry.
When watching Unforgiven it is clear that Eastwood learnt valuable lessons from both of these great directors: Leone's rugged, unromantic view of the West and Siegel's flare for staging action. However, Clint Eastwood is a director with talent all of his own and in Unforgiven we are given a special treat.
This 10th anniversary edition does full justice to the film Eastwood wanted us to see, most notably in its 2.35:1 widescreen presentation. The extra features are also useful and interesting additions serving as more than just padding.
Unforgiven is a Western and as such a genre piece. However, more than that it is a powerful story, a cautionary tale, and above all intelligent and emotionally gripping. It would be unforgivable of you not to embrace it!
on 28 May 2003
"Unforgiven" is much more than a breathtaking Western, it's an amazing film altogether. With elements of drama and film noir, this is a picture that shows us that there are some demons you can never put to rest, no matter how hard you try.
Clint Eastwood stars as William Munny, a once notorious and violent killer and thief. If Munny didn't like you, chances were that you wouldn't live long enough for him to tell you so. However, that was in the old days. Now, he's just a quiet and tired farmer who is a devoted father still in mourning of his dead wife. He's been straight for years and is trying to put all of his demons to rest, but you still get the feeling that no matter how hard he tries, he will always be haunted. An opportunity comes to him in the name of 'The Schofield Kid.' He gives him a chance to be his partner and have him help on a bounty. Knowing that the money could help his family out, Munny finally decides to take the Kid up on the offer. He also brings with him Ned Logan; an old friend and partner. Little Bill Daggett is the Sheriff in town, and the thing he hates most are assassins. He will do anything in his power to take care of them and make sure they do not succeed on their killing. The last remaining part of the film stands out the most and is so well executed that it catches you off guard.
This really is a great film and it surprised me like I would've never expected. I don't like Westerns all that much, but this isn't your typical Western. That is probably why I enjoyed it so much. There is so much story and character development. You really are able to sympathize with Munny, despite his dark and violent past. You want him to be able to get on with his life and forget the past, although you know deep down that things will never be put to rest, and agreeing to go on this bounty only increases the chance of Munny returning back to his old ways. This isn't a Western where the line between good guys and bad guys are clear and the storyline is simple; good guy kills bad guys and gets the girl in the end. No, you won't find any of this here. In this story there are no clear good guys or bad guys, just regular people. This is a real story with real characters that you can feel for. There is a huge issue of morality that takes place, which is something you don't see much in Westerns.
Not only does Eastwood do a terrific job in acting, he also does an amazing job as director. He's a man with vision, and who more qualified to direct a film of this magnitude. I don't think the film would had been as successful had it been done by someone else. The cast is also outstanding. Morgan Freeman really does his role justice. Gene Hackman spreads fear inside of you as the mean and tough Sheriff. Richard Harris also deserves mention for his part as well. (He is sorely missed. He was a very gifted actor.) Everyone really did great in their roles and really knew how to bring the film together.
This new DVD edition really does the movie justice. Though it may not have the most special features, the one feature that stands out the most is the new digital transfer that really makes the picture look crystal clear. The sound is also very impressive as well. Special features included are as follows: Audio commentary by Film Critic and Eastwood Biographer Richard Schickel, Eastwood film highlights, awards list, trailer, and 4 documentaries.
"Unforgiven" is really a spectacular film that deserved the Academy Awards for "Best Picture" and "Best Director." And it is a true masterpiece in my eyes. I think anyone who is a lover of films should give this one a try. Remember, you do not have to be a Western fan to enjoy this, because I am certainly not one. Some people may be disappointed in the lack of action or shoot-outs, but the film is about so much more. It's about morals and trying to put the past to rest. It's also about accepting who you are and that there are some things you will never be able to change, no matter how hard you try. This will end up being one of my favorites in no time. I was very surprised, indeed.
on 7 October 2004
This Special Edition 2 disc set of the Western classic Unforgiven needs to be part of any serious film collection out there. Not only did it earn Best Picture and Best Director Oscars of 1992, but it is now seen as the pinnacle of Clint Eastwood's glittering career. Co-starring the likes of Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris, it is easy to realise why Unforgiven is now regarded as 'a masterpiece'. Please read this review and own a genuinely brilliant piece of cinema on a great DVD package.
Clint stars as William Munny, a pig farmer with a vicious reputation for his doings in the past. When a young pretender by the name of The Schoffield Kid arrives at Munny's farm and offers him to collect the bounty for 'some no good cowboys' who cut up a young woman, Will is forced to go on the saddle for one last time. His old partner Ned (a terrific Morgan Freeman) also rides along, in search of some well needed cash.
The men however are oblivious to the fact the town of Big Whiskey is marshalled by vicious sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), a man who wants to see his town free of assassins and fire arms. Even from an early stage, you know Unforgiven is heading for an almighty duel between the two lead characters, Munny and Little Bill. This comes to one of the best clixmaxes I have ever seen, which haunts the audience. This is as gritty and as realistic a western film you are ever likely to come across.
The extras are spread out on Disc two, which includes some nice short documentaries about the making of Unforgiven. There is a considerable amount of time spent focusing on Clint Eastwood's career, which I feel is perhaps not significantly important, but does give the viewer some good information about his past. The picture and sound quality on this DVD is summed up in one word: flawless. It really doesn't look a film made 12 years ago and the tranfer is really as good as it gets. The comparisons between this and the old VHS are quite extroarinary to be honest. It's top quality stuff, believe me.
If you are looking for a film with a great story, top-drawer performances and powerful themes, you have come to the right DVD. Much can be learned from this story and much can be feared: it asks the question, can a person really change? This is simply Hollywood and Eastwood at its finest.
on 25 January 2003
Fans of the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns will love Unforgiven, not because of the style, or even the setting, but because its almost like a continuation of Eastwood's eponymous character from those films is making a final statement: He may be getting old, but he's still relevant. This mature, oscar winning movie ranks as a triumph, not because of the script by David Peoples (though,credit where credit is due, it is exceptional)simply because it succeeds in conjuring up genuine atmosphere, with some of the best character actors working in Hollywood today making the roles their own. Eastwood takes the central role as William Munny, a retired gunfighter coaxed back into the business by his ex-partner(an excellent,understated Morgan Freeman) to rescue a town from the benevolent sheriff Gene Hackman.
However, if all this is beginning to sound like a cliche, thats certainly where those accusations will stop. Watching Unforgiven is like sitting back in a bar watching real people-its not melodramatic, it's not overacted, it's sombre and thoughtful.
Eastwood's performance as Munny takes him away from the cheesy nonsense of the later Dirty Harry movies that he had been trapped in throughout the eighties, and demands work from the actor.Eastwood portrays a tortured character with immense skill,reminding us that, when he is at his best,he's untouchable.
That he worked so well with the entire cast to be rewarded with all round blinders is a fantastic acheivement.
Unforgiven is a violent film in certain places, but again this isn't Over the top, it's compulsively gritty.That Eastwood has been churning out empty-headed 'Pensioner thrillers' of late is all the more tragic when you look back ten years ago and realise he was capable of great work like this.
The DVD extras are immensely satisfying;Personally I don't go crazy for special features as long as there is a good film to fall back on, but I have to admit this is a very solid package.
This includes an audio commentary with Eastwood's biographer Richard Schickel that is surprisingly interesting and informative, and various interviews with the cast and crew, trailers and documentaries about the making of the movie.
All of these are more than worth a look, and if you're a big fan of Westerns this is certainly an essential purchase.
In Clint Eastwood's acclaimed Western, Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), a sadistic, dictatorial sheriff, enforces gun control on a tiny frontier town, doling out his own brand of due process as he sees fit. When he denies justice to the prostitutes of the town brothel, one of whom has been slashed by a client, the women hire Bill Munny (Eastwood), a reformed gunslinger, to gain vengeance. However, Munny must contend with his new moral code in the face of revisiting the life he left behind. Eastwood's directorial masterpiece also stars Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris.
UNFORGIVEN stands as a towering achievement, and it scooped numerous Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Hackman). However, it is Eastwood's portrayal of William Munny that really impresses most, with the actor brilliantly conveying the world-weary character, and in doing so, manages to make a bold statement regarding his own place in the world.
on 4 April 2013
Unforgiven is a mature & gritty western & not the usual Clint Eastwood cowboy stuff. PQ is good but audio is what it lags behind - contains only a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1@ 640kbps track instead of loss-less audio. Nonetheless, movie is enjoyable.
Clint Eastwood’s multi-Oscar winning 1992 film is rightly (in my book) acknowledged as one of the outstanding films of the western genre – as well as being credited with breathing new life into the genre. In addition to being consistently well-acted (Eastwood admittedly 'doing an Eastwood’, but probably never more engagingly), sharply scripted (courtesy of screenwriter David Webb Peoples) and beautifully shot (Jack N Green’s cinematography capturing spectacular vistas and gloomy rain-sodden night-times with equal aplomb), I find it particularly interesting for the way it mixes (in an uncompromisingly realistic way) 'revisionist’ and more traditional western themes– in effect, both dismantling and perpetuating the genre’s 'heroic’ mythology.
Eastwood’s ex-drunk, thief and murderer William Munny is a man who (likes to think he) has left his past behind (hence his repeated refrain of 'I ain’t like that no more’) – now, scrambling around in the mud (of his pig-farm), unable to hit a tin can (at target practice) and struggling even to mount a horse. Needs (of his two young children) must, though, as Munny sets off for the distant town of Big Whiskey in an unlikely trio with ex-partner Morgan Freeman’s Ned and Jaimz Woolvett’s young, deluded whippersnapper, the Schofield Kid, in order to reap the reward being offered by (an impressive) Frances Fisher’s 'lead whore’ Strawberry Alice for killing the perpetrators of the mutilation of one of her colleagues. Thereafter, Eastwood brilliantly sets up this trio (à la the equivalent in Peckinpah’s Ride The High Country) – the older pair full of regretful reminiscence, the ‘youngster’ full of duplicitous bravado.
In order to further 'discredit’ the mythology, Eastwood (and Peoples) then use the clever device of Saul Rubinek’s W W Beauchamp, biographer to (a superb) Richard Harris’ eccentric 'Englishman abroad’ and gunfighter English Bob (also after the reward), as (again, the outstanding) Gene Hackman’s sadistic sheriff, Little Bill Daggett (as eye-witness) discredits the stories of Bob’s past 'heroic exploits’. Unforgiven contains many superb set-pieces, a particular highlight for me being the first encounter between Little Bill and English Bob, whilst 'out of his depth’ Beauchamp’s willingness to transfer his 'hero allegiance’ from English Bob to Little Bill and thence to Munny provides some of the film’s many funny moments.
In the end, though, we return to Munny’s increasingly grizzled and resigned 'man with a past’ – as, in his anti-hero facing up to his demons, Eastwood the film-maker, provides us with (arguably) as spectacular and powerful a denouement as Eastwood the actor has ever delivered (Leone films included).
It's fair to say Clint Eastwood despite his success as an actor has had a mixed reception in the film's he has directed, but here he manages to re-invigorate the western genre with a much anticipated return in the lead role as well as producer and director.
Whilst it's somewhat departed from the "man with no name" earlier westerns ( you can associate the character with his previous outings though) here Eastwood plays William "Will" Munny a man who is living a quieter life farming but with a history as an outlaw in his younger days. A group of prostitutes put up a bounty and Munny decides to hunt down the attackers that left one of them horribly scared for life. He's joined by Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) a young and eager to prove himself "gunfighter"
English Bob (Richard Harris) is another experienced gunfighter looking to claim the bounty, but Sheriff "Little" Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) whips him into shape the ruthless enforcer is strict and harsh and goes to extreme lengths to counter the hunt for the gang that attacked the prostitute. After he's dealt with English Bob he turns his attention to Munny and his companions.
The film works on a number of levels the cast well Eastwood needs no introduction for the western roles he's played, but here (in his 60's) he's more mature but still that brooding and calm composure that defined his career in prior films. Hackman is outstanding on top form he manages to make you despise and detest his cruel and harsh Daggett character (a role which earned him an academy award for best supporting actor). Morgan Freeman is another fine actor who slots well into the production and Jaimz Woolvett does a decent job of his part too the keen young man hoping to make his mark is countered by the more mature Eastwood who's "seen it and been there"
My only disappointment was that Harris didn't get a bigger role in the film the English Bob role is an interesting one it's a shame we don't get to see him in action. Eastwood manages to inject a bit of humour into the film too (unusual for a western) The Schofield Kid turns out to be half blind or rather very short sighted (bit of a problem for a gunfighter) and "Little" Bill Daggett's constantly leaking house roof also lightens up proceedings a bit.
It's the end scene that impresses though you've come to hate Daggett so much that the inevitable showdown in a bar with Munny had to be a winner and thankfully it is. Some good close up camera work shows Eastwood confronting Daggett in a bar with the cold steely look and the eyes of revenge peering out under a hat that only Clint can really pull off. It's true the story doesn't really break any new ground, it could be argued the film is a bit on the long side but niggles aside this was the western many Eastwood fans wanted to see, after a fairly long gap since the last Clint Eastwood western.
on 29 July 2014
Big Whisky is full of people trying to lead quiet lives. Cowboys try to make a living. Sheriff 'Little Bill' tries to build a house and keep order.
When a couple of cowboys cut up a prostitute and disfigure her, the other prostitutes put a bounty on the cowboys. The bounty attracts The Schofield Kid, and he convinces ageing killer William Munny to join him.
Munny reformed for his wife, and has been raising his two children in peace, since his wife passed on.
But farm life is hard. And Munny is no good at it. So he calls his old partner Ned, and rides off to kill again, but who is villain, and who is heroic.........
Redemption is the order of the day here, and Eastwood has crafted one of, if not the, finest western ever committed to screen.
Its clear that the four ageing characters William, Ned, Bob, and Bill have all tried to change their ways. William turning his back on the world. Ned the same. But Bill and Bob are different beasts.
Bob tries to sugar coat his past by hiring a writer and putting on a facade, depicting his past crimes as somewhat heroic. Bill on the other hand, is trying to uphold the law, but in a despicable way. Him thinking what he is doing is right because he is doing it for the peace of Big Whiskey isn't just delusional, it's scaring the townsfolk.
And it all comes to a head, and Eastwood is trying to explain that you may turn your back on the past, but it's always there, and it will eventually catch up with you.
And it does, in an amazing final act, that almost comes across as a horror film, and you find it really difficult to side with anyone at the end, because Munny threatens, and you know he is serious, and at the end of the film, has anybody actually done anything positive?.
The only one who is innocent to an extent is The Schofield Kid, but come the end of the film, he is scarred just like every other character, literally and mentally.
Its a brilliant movie, deserved of its critical acclaim, and its awards.
It's one of my favourite films of all time.