Directed by Clint Eastwood.
Starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, Jaimz Woolvett and Saul Rubinek.
Unforgiven is the magnificent and dark story of William Munny (Eastwood) returning to his old ways as a gunslinger and taking on one last job in order to feed his young family. The film is one of only three Westerns ever to win the Oscar for Best Picture after Cimarron (1931) and Dances with Wolves (1990).
The story follows Munny as he leaves his new life of farming with his two young children in order to take on the job of killing two cowboys in Big Whiskey, Wyoming. The cowboys took it upon themselves to brutally cut up the face of a prostitute in the town and the other local prostitutes have all banded together and put up money out of their own pockets in order to see justice for their friend. Enough money to turn Munny’s fortunes around.
Munny is approached by the Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), who wants him to ride along for the job after hearing the tales of old, picturing Munny as a wild and cold-hearted killer. Munny constantly plays down the stories and enlists the help of his old friend and former gunslinger Ned (Freeman). As the three ride towards the town it’s clear the Kid has little or no experience and his eyesight is pretty poor. After arriving in the town and having a run in with the local sheriff, Little Bill (Hackman), the three of them escape to a barn outside of town where they hold up for a few days.
After Munny kills one of the cowboys Ned decides on leaving due to his lack of appetitive for this lifestyle anymore and Munny confesses he doesn’t wish to return to his old ways either. However, Munny and the Kid continue on and the Kid kills the second cowboy before confessing he had never killed before and renounces the gunslinger lifestyle. After Munny and the Kid claim their prize they are told that on his way back out of town Ned was captured by Little Bill and tortured to death. Munny sends the Kid back home to deliver Ned’s share to his family and Munny’s to his as he decides he wants vengeance.
As Little Bill is instructing a posse that they need to find Munny and the Kid, Ned’s body is displayed outside the saloon for all to see. Before Little Bill and his guys can leave Munny enters carrying his shotgun and promptly kills several men for decorating their bar with his friend. A bloody gun battle ensues in the saloon and most of Little Bill’s deputies lay dead. Munny wounds Little Bill and orders everyone out of the bar as he puts one final bullet into Little Bill and leaves town.
Unforgiven is an absolute classic of a film and explores the darker side of the Old West as legends are built by whispers and story telling and make it hard for a man to change. William Munny’s arc from simple farmer back to his unflinching and steady-handed gun-slinging ways is brilliant to watch and when he finally arrives back in the saloon to murder everyone in his way it offers one of the greatest scenes in the Western film genre. And for that reason Unforgiven is a film that you must see before you die.
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