No longer the young man of the west, Clint Eastwood went for a different role in Unforgiven. A retired cowboy who just wants to provide for his kids on a farm goes back to work when he hears of a $1000 reward. A lot of money to sort out two guys who went and cut up some whore’s face. Setting out as William Munny, one of the best Westerns began.
Unforgiven firstly has an amazing cast. Clint Eastwood plays the out of whack cowboy well. His horse throws him off, he misses his shots and generally acts like an old man past his prime. It seems the stories of him being a terrible man are long gone as he and his old friend, Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), can’t even stomach a kill. It’s strange seeing him play a role in which he can’t happily gun down the enemy, but this takes a more realistic approach on how a man would deal with killing. The young guy who tags along with them, Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), isn’t too happy about the way they are acting, boasting that this job is a cinch. Bad eyesight and clearly a liar, there is the consideration this man is just going to lead them to trouble.
Gene Hackman playing the nasty sheriff Little Bill Daggett plays the best role though. Angry, proud and quite scary, he plays mind games before kicking people about. The scene in which he drives out English Bob (Richard Harris) is when the film begins to really kick its stride and become an intense epic to the end. After kicking the crap out of him for carrying guns, he locks him and his biographer up in the cells, before playing mind games with the biographer. The silence can be cut with a knife as Bill suggests they do a gun draw and you know he’s a sinister piece of work. He steals every scene he’s in with his intimidating way of speaking and his brutish actions, except the one.
Unforgiven has a great cast playing believable and engaging roles and the story themes of killing and age is strong, but the final moments is what brings the film into legendary status. Before the ending the film is an entertaining if slightly slow film with a good story and cast, but once the troubles appear at the end after all the careful build up, things explode into moments of beauty, sadness, worry and pure awesome. Clint Eastwood always provides a great ending, but this is perhaps the best since the end of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, but in a darker yet equally tense way. After playing the old incapable Williams, seeing the old self awaken makes for an incredibly cool if slightly horrifying ending. The Clint of old returns for a glimmer and the film ends with my breath stolen away. Unforgiven is a masterpiece, it is no wonder it won so many awards back when it came out.