I am not familiar with the history of cowboys and the wild west, but as I do recall when someone mentions that to me, the thing that stays with me is cool nicknames. You can have a regular name and just add an adjective before it and your name will sound like a total badass. Really cool stuff if you ask me.
Winner of Best Picture in the 65th Academy Awards and the third Western movie to win, Unforgiven is one of those classics that deserve to be recognized. One of Clint Eastwood's classics
The movie starts off when a cowboy who goes by the name Quick Mike (David Mucci) slashes Delilah Fitzgerald's (Anna Thomson) face. She is a prostitute and the crime made a permanent scar across her face. The sheriff, Little Bill (Gene Hackman), ordered Quick Mike to turn over several horses as payment for the damages done. The prostitutes refused and instead posted a bounty of $1000 for the cowboy's deaths. Meanwhile, in a far place, Schoefield Kid (James Woolvett) visited William "Will" Munny (Clint Eastwood) who self-proclaims to be a bounty hunter. Will was a former bigshot outlaw and murderer and decided to lay low while raising two children. He refuses the help and after realizing that his farm is failing he sets off one last time to look for a job. He recruits his old friend, Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) along the way and the 2 of them caught up with Schoefield Kid. English Bob (Richard Harris), a British gunfighter and a rival to Little Bill, together with his assistant arrived at the town and was immediately turned away due to the enforced anti-gun law. Little Bill and his cohorts disarm Bob beats him and banishes him out of town while leaving his assistant behind. Will, Ned, and Kid arrive at the town on a rainy night where they meet the prostitutes. Will remains in the bar when Little Bill confiscates his gun knowing he too wants a share of the bounty. Ned and Kid managed to escape taking him to a nearby barn out of town. Together with the prostitute's help, they nursed him back and the trio went off and ambushed one of Quick Mike's men. Ned then realized that he cannot kill anymore and decided to go home. Will and Kid, decided to finish the job together. They managed to kill Quick Mike and escape. When one of the prostitutes handed them the reward, she told them that Ned was captured and tortured to death by Little Bill and his men. Enraged he decides to set off to the town and kill Little Bill. At the bar, Ned's corpse was displayed in a coffin just outside as a warning to other would-be assassins. When Will arrives, holding a shotgun, he was able to outlast and kill Little Bill and a few of his men. He leaves the town ordering them to properly bury Ned and not harm the prostitutes or he'll come back to kill them.
Again, those cowboy or Western nicknames are the ones that really stand out pretty much from this film. It's just so badass.
The story itself to me started very slow. It wasn't really interesting until it got about the time when English Bob was introduced because that's when you start to feel the heaviness of it. But during the middle up to the climax, the whole plot just went from good to great. Especially the final bar scene when Will walks up with a shotgun, a truly epic scene.
In my opinion, I do not think there is an outright hero or villain here. The story may tell you right off the bat that Will is the hero but technically he's also a murderer, at the same time Little Bill is the villain because he is corrupt but he just enforces the law in his town. What the story really presents is that all of the characters here have their own heroism and at the same time evilness inside them. I truly love films like this that make you question who is really good and evil. But at the end of the day, there is none. The movie itself truly paints the picture in a colorful fashion and not just plain black and white.
I also like this film because it presents a couple of hard-hitting emotions like vengeance, helplessness, loyalty, manipulation, and grief. That just goes to show that this is not your typical shoot-your-enemy kind of movie. It is so much more.
Another thing that amazes me is Will's character himself. For the most part in the film, he doesn't drink alcohol and is shown having trauma even just by touching it. But when he does, he links his current self to his former self and just goes on a killing spree. This message to me depicts that killing becomes easier when he is intoxicated. Does this mean that the film leaves the message of the adverse effects of drinking alcohol?
Both Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman played outstanding roles. But to me, the one that stands out in this show is Gene Hackman. I mean I can never picture anyone as notorious as he is. These three actors were really on top of their own class and absolute legends in the business. All the other actors and actresses played their roles very well.
All the locations where they shot the film were truly mesmerizing. It really gives you the vibe of old Western scenery. Couple it with people wearing cowboy outfits and revolvers, all the more decent.
There were a couple of scenes where the entire place really gets too dark and it is kinda hard to see the characters. I don't really know if it's intended to be that way but other than that, I think it is a pretty decently shot film.
This movie has a Japanese adaptation in 2013 starring Ken Watanabe. Instead of bandits and cowboys, it was samurai instead. Maybe I'll try it some other time.
Overall this movie might not be one of my favorites but it still is a must-watch. This might be one of the best films directed and acted by Clint Eastwood so it should be on top of your bag if you want to watch his films. In terms of Western movies, this could also be one of the best. It may not be for everyone though since there are quite a few scenes that are pretty hard to take or understand.
I will give this film a solid 4 out of 5 stars.