Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)

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flyonthewall2983
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#1 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Jul 06, 2006 9:27 pm

Ives wrote:Regarding Unforgiven - One could argue that Munny is meting out justice to those who deserve it but believe themselves to be innocent. Clearly, in this film, noone is forgiven. I never thought the title referred only to Munny. It refers to all the characters in the film, except perhaps the prostitute with the cut up face, and maybe Davy-boy. The cowboy who does that to her, the women who plot against him, the owner of the saloon, Little Bill, etc; all are culpable for something, whether it is the inability to control rage, or the desire to seek revenge, or the refusal to treat people equally. All the characters spiral into chaos. And there is Munny, the Angel of Death, guiltless and conscience-less as he carries out judgment.

I don't view this as an atheist film. I see it as a conscious expression of the world, twisted by violence, corruption, and denial of God.

I love the film, and I love hearing other people's views on it! Sorry to tangent-ize!
I completely agree. I think the scene where Will and the Schofield Kid are waiting for their money is one of the most beautiful and thematically strongest scenes in the picture. It also sums up the entire film to me when Will says "we all have it comin, kid". And that fact is furthered even stronger when Will replies to Little Bill's final words.

To me, there are many things about the film that make it classic. The first being that watching it, one gets the feeling that this is not just making a statement about the Western genre of film. It's about the conflicts and feelings we all face in society when violence enters the picture. Vengeance, anger, loss, sadness, depression are all vital themes in Westerns, and this was no exception.

The second thing is purely the fact that you have two of the greatest leading men of the 2nd half of the 20th century carrying this picture on their own until the climax. That said, one would immediately conjure up Once Upon A Time In The West with Bronson and Fonda. But to me, it's something more that resembles what Michael Mann pulled off when he did Heat not too long after Unforgiven with DeNiro and Pacino. Both Clint's and Gene's characters mirror the DeNiro and Pacino characters in a similar way, with one being sullen and quiet and the other being brash and full of bravado. That said, I'm definitely not accusing Michael of simply ripping off Clint, both films definitely live in their own space otherwise. It's just an interesting comparison.

The final thing is that this probably killed off the Hollywood Western as being a great film. Not many have come since then, as far as mainstream films. My hope is that one day a daring indie director does with the Western what Leone and Peckinpah did over 40 years ago now, and subverts it once again without sacrificing respect and honor to the old traditions of the way John Ford and others did.

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#2 Post by Ives » Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:18 pm

Thanks for moving this over to its own thread.

I had not thought of the comparison with Heat, but thinking about it is interesting. I think Al comes out ahead of Gene in terms of ethical behavior (slightly...on a personal level Al has definite issues). Comparing Clint and Robert yields a bit more common ground.

Munny is simultaneouly the ultimate hero and the ultimate villain. He is the only character who is truly sympathetic to the disfigured prostitute. He makes observations about life and about situations which are outside the box everyone else seems to be in. He seems ever aware of the violence he's capable of unleashing, but holds it in check until the end. He has his own sense of justice and delivers it on his own time. In that sense he is very much like Neil in Heat, who goes after Waingro and Van Zant as a matter of necessity, as if he were bringing balance back to his world by blowing them away. It's as though their very existence is offensive to him. Same with Munny at the end of Unforgiven. These are two fascinating films.

I find it funny now that I hated Unforgiven the first time I saw it. I think I was 1. young and 2. offended by what Clint "did" to the Western as a genre. Now, of course, I get it, and I get how incredibly relevant the film is to modern times, especially the past five years. What comes as the result of violence is always more violence. Violence is irredeemable, and inconsistent with the goal of peace as a means to that end. The end to its life cycle is either to wipe the slate clean, as Munny does, or to initiate forgiveness, as human beings almost never do.

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#3 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:39 pm

To me, the comparison is part of an even bigger discussion (in film terms) of how the crime genre replaced the western, in a way. Not just in Heat or Mann's other films, but with alot of other directors too. Tarantino obviously, especially with the Kill Bill series.

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#4 Post by stroszeck » Sat Jul 15, 2006 10:13 pm

Maybe its just me, but I still do not particularly find this movie very poignant or emotionally significant. I personally didn't really understand or care about the role of Richard Harris as English Bill and didn't really see it adding much to the story. Furthermore, the shoot outs, especially the one at the very end, were not exactly filmed very brilliantly. There was something lacking in the compositions and choreography (not that I am actively comparing them to Leone westerns or even John Ford/Howard Hawks' versions of shoot outs).

The whole filmed felt very blah to me, probably because I was never that interested or gave a damn about the prostitutes and their "plight," which was the point of the whole thing.

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#5 Post by souvenir » Sat Jul 15, 2006 11:03 pm

stroszeck wrote:Maybe its just me, but I still do not particularly find this movie very poignant or emotionally significant. I personally didn't really understand or care about the role of Richard Harris as English Bill and didn't really see it adding much to the story. Furthermore, the shoot outs, especially the one at the very end, were not exactly filmed very brilliantly. There was something lacking in the compositions and choreography (not that I am actively comparing them to Leone westerns or even John Ford/Howard Hawks' versions of shoot outs).

The whole filmed felt very blah to me, probably because I was never that interested or gave a damn about the prostitutes and their "plight," which was the point of the whole thing.
The Harris character is actually English Bob and I think at least part of the reason for his inclusion is to show the mythology surrounding the violent gunfighters and the utter falseness involved therein.

I also wouldn't say that the prostitutes' plight was the "point of the whole thing." It's more of a catalyst for Munny to once again show his true stripes. The reward money, I think, is much more of a reason for Munny to initially get involved. He's unable to support his children economically.

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#6 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:32 am

Ives wrote:I had not thought of the comparison with Heat, but thinking about it is interesting. I think Al comes out ahead of Gene in terms of ethical behavior (slightly...on a personal level Al has definite issues). Comparing Clint and Robert yields a bit more common ground.

Munny is simultaneouly the ultimate hero and the ultimate villain. He is the only character who is truly sympathetic to the disfigured prostitute. He makes observations about life and about situations which are outside the box everyone else seems to be in. He seems ever aware of the violence he's capable of unleashing, but holds it in check until the end. He has his own sense of justice and delivers it on his own time. In that sense he is very much like Neil in Heat, who goes after Waingro and Van Zant as a matter of necessity, as if he were bringing balance back to his world by blowing them away. It's as though their very existence is offensive to him. Same with Munny at the end of Unforgiven. These are two fascinating films.
Agreed. I think that both films also examine notions of professionalism and what happens when it becomes personal. Initially, for Munny it is a paying gig, killing the cowboys that cut up the prostitute but after his friend i skilled by Little Bill then it becomes personal. Ditto Heat. At first, Neil is all business but when Waingro becomes too much of a problem, when he kills one of Neil's crew then it becomes personal and it is a matter of honor that Neil has to kill both Waingro and Van Zant for crossing him.

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#7 Post by TedW » Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:47 pm

Masterpiece, for me. Or near-masterpiece, if you want to criticize Eastwood's digression off the main through-line with the English Bob section. It's there for an intellectual reason, Eastwood simply making a point, and the idea is related to main idea of the movie but is certainly tangential (one might even claim reductive: the falseness of the gunfighters' mythology? Well, yes, that's correct, but who cares? There's other, much more interesting and emotional stuff going on.). I don't mind it, 'cause it's neat and tidy and doesn't really impact the flow of the narrative in a bad way, but I can understand if someone would say that it's unnecessary.

Beyond that, the movie has a great story, great screenplay, it's perfectly cast, it's directed carefully with restraint and subtlety (unlike other, even other celebrated pictures by Eastwood, who usually is in "Just throw the Steadicam up so we can knock this whole scene off by four; I can still get through the front nine before the sun goes down" mode), and the performances, including The Man himself, are extraordinary to a man. Frances Fisher is amazing -- she communicates her character's entire history without saying a word about it.

What more do you want in a movie?

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#8 Post by Gordon » Sun Jul 23, 2006 6:08 pm

Brilliant piece of storytelling by David Webb Peoples and assured, often graceful direction by Eastwood. Hackman's performance is flawless. What an actor; perhaps my favourite actor ever, but he seems to have more or less retired. I don't want Welcome to Mooseport to be his last on-screen performance. The cast of Unforgiven was a one-in-a-million affair and we certainly don't see such casts of brilliant and inventive veterans playing magnificent characters in an enthralling and thought-provoking story too much these days. Long-time Eastwood collaborator, Jack Green's cinematography has a stark beauty which enriched the film greatly, especially in the fatal scene in Skinny's saloon. Few American films have reached such powerful heights as in that incredible scene.

A magnificent film; definitely one of the greatest Westerns ever, certainly one of the most inpressive films of the 90s - a genuine modern classic. I know that Mystic River seems to polarize to some degree, but I feel that it too is one of the most exceptional films of recent years. I'm greatly looking forward to Flags of Our Fathers and Red Sun, Black Sand.

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#9 Post by TedW » Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:33 pm

I understand Coppola developed that script for many years with Eastwood in mind. No surprise, if true.

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#10 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:46 pm

According to Francis, Clint rejected it outright. It was also mentioned he also rejected a role in Apocalypse Now in Richard Schickel's book about Clint.

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#11 Post by Gordon » Sun Jul 23, 2006 8:36 pm

If Clint was put through what Sheen went through, Coppola would currently be wearing his ass for a hat, and this unable to block the Brownlow/Davis version of Napoleon. Oh, where's that time-machine! :x

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#12 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Jul 23, 2006 9:57 pm

Clint would have been great casting if he had Duvall's role, or even Brando's. It's a real shame Clint has never been a villain in anything, he would be an enormous heavy.

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#13 Post by exte » Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:05 pm

When I first discovered Sergio Leone's work, I was surprised by how good Clint Eastwood was. As a kid, he always seemed like just another marquee name. When I finally saw Unforgiven, I was blown away by it, bit by bit, starting with the opening grave scene. The script is indeed awesome. Peoples also had a hand in Blade Runner, too, didn't he? I stayed away from Mystic River for a long time, due to the stigma attached to it. I think it's a fine work, mostly for Penn's exceptional work, though I have not been a fan of his really, only until very recently, actually. I thought Million Dollar Baby was splendid in its execution and direction, yet I completely disagree with it politically. Anyway, long story short, I find Eastwood utterly fascinating. Just as an actor, I think his look is one of the rarest ever to grace the screen. His eyes are more piercing than I think anyone else's. As for him as a villain... I'm shocked it's never happened. I still have yet to see Dirty Harry in its entirety, by the way.

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#14 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Mon Jul 24, 2006 9:33 am

Gordon McMurphy wrote:Brilliant piece of storytelling by David Webb Peoples and assured, often graceful direction by Eastwood. Hackman's performance is flawless. What an actor; perhaps my favourite actor ever, but he seems to have more or less retired. I don't want Welcome to Mooseport to be his last on-screen performance. The cast of Unforgiven was a one-in-a-million affair and we certainly don't see such casts of brilliant and inventive veterans playing magnificent characters in an enthralling and thought-provoking story too much these days. Long-time Eastwood collaborator, Jack Green's cinematography has a stark beauty which enriched the film greatly, especially in the fatal scene in Skinny's saloon. Few American films have reached such powerful heights as in that incredible scene.
Agreed. There is something absolutely chilling about that scene... an unpredictable quality that when you first watch it, you have no idea what's going to happen next except that it ain't going to be pretty.
I know that Mystic River seems to polarize to some degree, but I feel that it too is one of the most exceptional films of recent years. I'm greatly looking forward to Flags of Our Fathers and Red Sun, Black Sand.
As am I. I'd also like to vote for A Perfect World as one of Eastwood's most underrated directorial efforts. There is something really interesting going on in that movie and I love how they cast Kevin Costner as kind of an unlikable guy in the movie. He has some real flaws that color his character in an interesting way. I always liked that one.
Last edited by Fletch F. Fletch on Mon Jul 24, 2006 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#15 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:18 am

Fletch F. Fletch wrote:
As am I. I'd also like to vote for A Perfect World as one of Eastwood's most underrated directorial efforts. There is something really interesting going on in that movie and I love how they cast Kevin Costner as kind of an unlikable guy in the movie. He has some really flaws that color his character in a really interesting way. I always liked that one.
I'll add a hearty second to A Perfect World - I think it's definitely one of Eastwood's finest efforts.



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Re: Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)

#18 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:03 am

Coming in both 4k AND HDR (high dynamic range) and honestly, HDR is absolute shit. I caught a demonstration of it on some Amazon shows that were available in HDR (which at the time meant something like a handful of consumers in the country), and there's nothing "natural" looking about it. Everything glowed like radioactive waste. I hope it dies a quick death because this would NOT be a good trend for movies or anything in general.

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