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Nothing good comes of killing in Unforgiven. Violence will only lead to violence and that is the underlying theme in Unforgiven. We are introduced to Will Munny as an old man. I think about him now and again. As strange as it may sound Eastwood builds a sympathy for William Munny, the widowed father of two, and a sense of respect forms.

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He is presented as a man who, forced by his situation, needs the bounty money on two men who were not unlike him 30 years ago; this last ride is his attempt to atone for his past sins. This is one of the key messages in Unforgiven — there are always consequences. Those two cowboys deserve to die for what they did, just as much as Munny deserves to be haunted by his past. Why should either escape their fate? The fact that Munny is played by Eastwood — The Man with No Name, the High Plains Drifter, the Pale Rider — means that while Will Munny is almost mild mannered in Unforgiven , we have still seen some version of him as this menacing gunslinger that Eastwood played in countless westerns early in his career.

Eastwood brought the baggage of his own previous characters with him to enhance Will Munny, probably the best character he has ever played. Not too often are two actors presented with the finest roles of their careers in the same film, but that is exactly what happens in Unforgiven. But it is very hard to hate Little Bill as while he shows his cold, vindictive side, the viewer understands that Little Bill feels he is on the side of right, that he is doing the right thing.

Take for instance his brutal beating of English Bob, English Bob has done nothing wrong in coming to Big Whiskey but Little Bill uses him as a message to any others coming to claim the bounty on the cut whore cowboys.

The Unforgiven (Edmonton, Alberta - August 16, 2017)

He beats him to within an inch of his life. While being sadistic, Little Bill is also humourous and likeable and that throws the viewer completely.

We need a villain but Hackman navigates that narrow channel between good and bad, dipping into the water of each when he feels like it. For that he is absolutely spellbinding as Little Bill. He is an appealing character in whom, when regaling Mr. The last 20 minutes of Unforgiven is the greatest piece of film making and character building that Clint Eastwood, as either director or actor, has ever achieved.

3. Inverting the maxim "show, don't tell" for dramatic effect

Eight years later, the film Eastwood shot was almost exactly as scripted in In a recent episode of the Scriptnotes podcast, screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin deconstruct this deconstructed western, comparing script page to screen, and illuminating why the story works so well both in written and visual forms. Even when other characters tell us Munny was once the "goddamndest meanest sonofabitch" there was, Munny doesn't own up to the legend, and we're not exactly buying it either. We almost wonder what the hell we're watching: is this really a Clint Eastwood western?

August summarizes exactly why Peoples' script works so well by defying the western genre's prescriptions:. The script takes our expectations of what a western is supposed to do, what the hero of a western is supposed to do, and what the tropes of a western are supposed to do. When writers get stuck in their stories and don't know what to write next, the theme should be their guide. Over and over and over, this is a movie about stories and truth.

Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’ Closed the Book on Movie Westerns - The Ringer

And Peoples never lets off that gas pedal on it. You know, when you ask the question, well, what am I supposed to be writing here, the theme will tell you Most importantly, I think, the script is incredibly instructive on theme and character and how they intertwine and how all characters are like spokes, all leading to the hub of the wheel of the theme.

Beauchamp, a writer constantly looking for the meanest killer of the West, can't get enough of these tales, even when most of them are fabrications. The one character who refuses to indulge in the legend is Munny, the only character who eventually lives up to his legend, which is worse than we even imagined.

Peoples' script never loses sight of the theme of legends and truth, returning to the theme over and over to move the story forward. The first thing all new screenwriters and filmmakers are told is "show, don't tell.

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Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’ Closed the Book on Movie Westerns

In the film, William Munny's partner Ned Logan, played by Morgan Freeman, can no longer stomach the killings and rides off to return to his wife. What we don't see is his capture at the hands of Little Bill and his minions. Instead, we only discover Ned Logan's capture when we see Little Bill whipping him to get information on the names and whereabouts of Munny and The Schofield Kid.

But we never see the end of Ned's torture. Instead, we only learn what happened to Ned when Munny learns what happened to his friend. And the authorities who once made it their business to hunt these men have an eye on retirement. But you can imagine the kind of gunslingers they used to be — thanks to classic Westerns.

And Unforgiven is a sly reimagining of one such movie. Its plot and archetypes, as written by David Webb Peoples Blade Runner , all point to something more typical. There are the eye-level holster shots, the light comedy of weaker men, the sense that the bad guys are really the good guys — all typical fare. Unforgiven is a Hollywood movie, starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, whose real subject is the Hollywood movies of stars like Clint Eastwood: larger-than-life figures whose images ascended to national myth.

He closed the book on the genre. Eastwood first heard about the script for Unforgiven from Peoples in the s.

But he held off until he was old enough to play the lead role: Clint is, among other things, a master of movies about aging men. Eastwood is the star of all of his Westerns. He is extremely self-aware: each offers a new, slightly jagged, complicating take on his persona — as if, for Eastwood, the purpose of directing a Western is to take a look at himself in a convex mirror. Unforgiven is the most revealing. On the one hand, Eastwood fills the movie with classic displays of himself: that lean heroic pose, that cock-eyed grimace he famously makes as he slowly raises his gaze, beneath the brim of his hat, to meet yours — then kills you.

On the other, Unforgiven is a movie premised on undercutting the familiar power of that persona from every side.