Unforgiven (1992)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1992Warner Bros., Malpaso Productions.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Clint Eastwood.  Music by . Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A brothel in a tiny Wyoming frontier town becomes a den of revenge after a client viciously attacks a woman by cutting up her face.  The sheriff of Big Whiskey () makes the men involved atone by giving up a few horses to the house’s owner, which gives no satisfaction to the house madam () who wants them to pay a dearer price.  Miles away, rancher  hears of a big reward for catching and killing these men and sets off with friend and young , his demons as a former drunken outlaw beginning to creep up on him as he gets closer to his goal.  Eastwood also directs this richly enjoyable tale that brings the western to great success on the big screen for the first time in many years, and typical of his work subverts a primarily male genre with a healthy female element that informs the way the violence and morality are protrayed on the screen.  Effectively coming across as an anti-western, this one has no one dying in a blaze of glory, with shootouts that happen on the toilet and not in legendary laneways.  Men are shot in the back and women’s virtue is valued somewhere below livestock and alcohol consumption in a satisfying tale of justice and revenge that masks more thought-provoking themes of American mythmaking and the joke of frontier law, proving our ideas of the Wild West to be more the product of Hollywood films than anything out of a history book (as if to further hammer this in, David Peoples’ script includes a writer played by who is the least reliable character in the film).  Beautifully photographed and designed, it’s a fine resurgence in the star’s career that led to many more classics to follow.

Academy Awards:  Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman); Best Director (Clint Eastwood); Best Film Editing
Nominations: Best Actor (Clint Eastwood); Best Original Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction; Best Sound

Golden Globe Awards:  Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman); Best Director (Clint Eastwood)
Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Screenplay

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