Release year: 1992
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenwriter: David Webb Peoples
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, Frances Fisher, Jaimz Woolvett, Anna Thomson
Ratings: 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman), Best Director, Best Film Editing. 5 Oscar nominations: Best Actor (Clint Eastwood), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound. 2 Golden Globes: Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman). 2 Golden Globes nominations: Best Picture Drama, Best Screenplay. 1 Empire Award: Best Film.
When a couple of cowboys cut up a prostitute the town sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman) gives a mild punishment that leaves the prostitutes enraged. Determined to see justice they put a bounty on the men’s heads. The bounty attracts young gun ‘The Schofield Kid’ (Jaimz Woolvett) who contacts retired gun man Bill Munny (Clint Eastwood). Though he has left his days as a killer behind him, the widowed Munny is in hard need of money for him and his kids and talks his old partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) into joining them. Together the three men sets out to earn the bounty in the area where tough Little Bill rules with a hard hand.
Clint Eastwood (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, 1966) has been a star for several decades experiencing several comebacks. One of them was with this, the last he made of the western genre that first made him a star and which earned him his first Oscar for Best Direction. While the tall narrow-eyed actor has starred in his share of violent movies he is personally against violence, which shows in Unforgiven which deals with violence by in an unglorifying way showing the horrifying consequences and ugliness of it. It also deals with how truth was often distorted into simplistic myths in the Old West and it is fair to say that it isn’t as much a western as it is a study of the blurred lines between heroism and villainy, man and myth. Eastwood’s Munny is an at once simple character but also complex as it becomes clear how much he struggles inside with taking up an old task that obviously feels way to easy. It is evident that the character is close to other parts Eastwood has played and he plays him with seeming ease yet no less power. Freeman (Se7en, 1995) is as excelletn as ever and Fisher (Titanic, 1997) strong as the lead prostitute, while Thomson (The Crow, 1994) delivers a heartbreakingly tender performance as Delilah, but the Oscar winning turn from the brilliant Hackman (The French Connection, 1971) truly stands out as he creates incredible tension in every scene. Unforgiven is today being compared to classics like The Searchers (1956) and is considered one of the best westerns ever made, making it a worthy goodbye to the genre for one of the big western stars.
Although the score was arranged by Lennie Niehaus, Clint Eastwood wrote the main theme himself.
Picture copyright: SF Film