The last film from Clint Eastwood’s impressive filmography that I have revisited is Unforgiven, but you surely must have guessed that name even from the title. After all, it sums up perfectly what the entire film says: no matter what, we all end up the same way.
Clint Eastwood has been called a living legend and an American national treasure. But, as the movie itself speaks not just for the westerners (it wasn’t called an anti-Western for nothing), I believe that this actor is probably the only one everybody in the world should treasure.
Of course, we may remember him from the Dollars trilogy, or from the Dirty Harry movies. But, in my opinion, it is Unforgiven that is his undisputed masterpiece. The movie came at a time when the genre faded away and it was looked upon (before its release) as one that would revive and reinvent these types of movies.
And it did just that. Except that the rigorous morals which were prevalent in the westerns were left aside. The thin line between hero and villain has been blurred. We know that Clint Eastwood’s Will Munny has killed women and children, just like we know that he has killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another.
At the same time, we know that Little Bill Daggett is the man of his times, being the perfect portrayal of the lawman. Even more, as the story unfolds, we even find out about all his heroic deeds. So, between these two, with whom do we empathize the most?
As said, there is a sudden shift between good and bad, a shift that is perfectly surprised by the same Clint Eastwood. When he finds out about his friend’s death, we see him literally changing and we realise that he is the man everybody said he was.
And this is the moment when I realised how good a movie this was. First, we have the actors that are all brilliant. And then we have the two perspectives from which Unforgiven can be watched: the perspective of the hero-turned-villain and the perspective of the villain-turned-hero. Which one is which?
The morals code is so lax within Unforgiven that I can actually ask myself whether or not it actually exists. It is all so relative that, in the end, I can return to Will Munny’s words and say to myself, we all got it coming, kid.
As a conclusion, I’ll say only this: Unforgiven – Yeah.