#113: Unforgiven (1992)

UNFORGIVEN, Jaimz Woolvett, Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood, 1992

When and how did I watch this?

August 9th and 10th, 2016, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Not very much.  I had vague recollections of the film from some exposure as a youth — I remember my dad having seen the film.  That’s about it.

What do I know about it now?

Another dark and gritty film on the list, this time set in the hard knocks Old West.  Some hookers get slapped around, some vigilantes start looking for the offenders to collect their reward, and the law of the land shows his secret corruption. Eastwood’s Munny is compelling, albeit at times lays hard into the stereotypical cowboy-with-a-past tough guy persona.  The film recognizes some social norms portrayed in western films and flips them upside down; the hookers have the money, the sheriff is actually a coward, the gun slingers don’t really want to murder anyone after all, and what’s the black guy doing there? This is all put together in a tactful, realistic manner. Either way, the macho guys get theirs, and the good guy still wins in the end. That’s all we really want, right? The dialogue and cinematography make the film. Past Eastwood and Hackman’s sneers and quick pistols is real human blood and guts, two brains and hearts we care about. The whole landscape feels dirty, stinky, and dangerous. Good stuff.

What are some themes in the film?

Life and death morality, social norms, revenge

Did this affect me personally?

Little Bill’s monologue is striking, an immersive discourse on the human condition in a state of distress.

Why is this ranked #113?

It rises above the common western film, and it has a couple of heavyweight screen legends.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She was very much satisfied with the ending.

Would I watch it again?

Nope.  While I admired the film, it’s certainly not my genre, and it’s not what one would call entertaining.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Yes.  Eastwood clearly knows what he’s doing, and it’d be unfortunate to miss one of his best works.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yes.  It’s almost a snub to the classic westerns on the list (A Fistful of Dollars, High Noon), nearly redefining the genre by itself.  Sure, there are probably others that attempted to do the same, but this film pushes all others aside and says, “This is how it really was in the west.” Even if that’s not the case, the presented version feels more realistic and gripping.

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