America - 1880 - and a young wannabe outlaw, called The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), bestows onto one time legendary assassin, William Munny (Clint Eastwood), a very simple proposition...
"Come with me to
Will, as a bunch of prostitutes have placed
a bounty on the heads of two cowboys, due to the fact that they have disfigured
one of their own". Texas
Regrettably, though, William refuses the kid's offer straight away. He has a farm to tend to. Two children to feed. A dead wife's memory to preserve. Plus he is a bit rusty when is comes to killing folks for a living.
However, not so long after the kid and William parts ways, William changes his mind about this matter, as he desperately needs some money so he can provide for his kin. Therefore, he travels to his old friend place, Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), and asks Ned if he and his wife can look over his children for him, whilst he is away.
Ned's wife does - whereas Ned accompanies William on his mission.
Meanwhile, over in
the sheriff of this province, Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), is a very
emotional man at the moment. For example, he is somewhat happy that the house
he is building is coming along 'just fine'. Next, he is somewhat irritated that
the prostitutes have placed a bounty on the head of the cowboys who did them
injustice. And in top of that, he is somewhat violent when British maverick, English
Bob (Richard Harris), rides into town, and stakes a claim on this said same
Heck, Bill is so violent, that he beats up Bob, he disgraces Bob, and he forces him to leave his jurisdiction with his tail in-between his legs. Moreover, he does that same thing too when William turn up too!
Still, three days after all of this happens, the times change as quickly as the wounds heals from Williams beating. And I suppose that is why what next transpires is a right rooting tooting free for all I can tell you! As death comes in three's - culprits are hung by trees - vengeance comes a knocking - and some men will never be stopping.
OK, I have to be honest with you, 'Unforgiven' is one of my all time favourite classic westerns in cinematic history. The story is simple yet multi-layered. The ambience is moody and atmospheric in ton. The casting is inspired . And it also comes with one simple ingredient to make it stand out from the crowd, Clint Eastwood.
You see, Clint brings something to this movie that no other actor ever could - his own association with this genre, a humility that is purely his own, plus a way of looking at things that is very fresh and dynamic.
To elaborate: (1) The inclusion of the W. W. Beauchamp character, as played by Saul Rubinek, is a very cleaver plot device that is at the core of this film, because conceptually, it shows how history is always being re-written by the media. You see, for many years now, most of Clint's projects have had an alternate yet truthful take on popular fiction, conveying that not always see what you believe. In many ways Beachamp is the precursor too many of the films Clint saw when he was a child - perverting youthful minds with a fictionalised version of the truth. (2) The William Munny character is easily an evolution of some of the other maverick outlaws Clint has played when he was younger. It was very nice to see that Clint recognized this aspect within William, thus giving him the opportunity to dabble about within his own myth, whilst expanding upon a new one. (3) The world of 'Unforgiven' is masked in shades of grey, because all of the main protagonists feel that what they are doing is for the right reasons. The prostitutes feel justified for placing a bounty on the heads of those cowboys, because the law turned its back on them when they desperately needed them. William and Ned feel justified for going after this bounty, because they need the money to tend to their own families. And Bill feels justified for behaving in the way that he does, because deep inside he sees himself as a wholesome peacemaker, trying to defend his town by reasonable means.
True, right? All of these things are pure Clint through and though. Just like these facts: (1) Clint dedicated this movie to two of his directorial mentors. Don Siegel [from Dirty Harry] and Sergio Leone [from The Dollars Trilogy]. (2) Clint's mother had a small part in this flick, but she was cut out from its final release due to its running time. Clint apologized to her whilst he was accepting his Oscar. (3) Clint wrote the main theme for this movie with some assistance from composer, Lennie Niehaus. (4) The screenplay, written by David Peoples, drifted around for nearly thirteen years before Clint Eastwood bought the writes to make it. Moreover, it took Clint an extra seven years before he actually got around to do it. (5) Clint asked Gene Hackman to base his character on the then
police chief, Daryl
Gates. (6) David Peoples has publicly stated that the Martin Scorsese
masterpiece 'Taxi Driver', and the Glendon Swarthout novel 'The Shootist', were
the two major influences in writing this screenplay. (7) Clint wore the
same boots in this film as he did on 'Rawhide' and the 'Sergio Leone' films.
Clint says that these boots symbolize the beginning and the end of his 'western
career' for him. (8) The lady who played the head prostitute, Strawberry
Alice, is in fact Clint's first wife, Frances Fisher. And (9) 'The Duke' was a
reference to Los Angeles Hollywood movie star, John Wayne. Plus
the term 'Snake Eyes' was in reference to Lee Van Cleef, Clint's co-star in two
of the 'Dollars Trilogy'.
Well, if you have not guessed by now, for me, 'Unforgiven' is an unforgettable film. Its a land mark movie for Clint, and I have to mention the magnificent performances by Morgan (sexy voice) Freeman, Gene (I'm a nice guy, honestly) Hackman, and Richard (I am good at playing b*stards) Harris. Also, the rest of the cast did a bang up job as well, just like this, my favourite scene from this movie...
A true classic. I cannot say any more than that, can I
THE RATING: A+